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With bitter cold in the forecast, city of St. Louis opens winter operations

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The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

“The intention for 12th and Park is as a recreation center,” said Irene Agustin, the director of human services for St. Louis. “It disrupted a lot of things within that community. It was there when we needed it, however, moving forward, we are working very closely with our community.”

This is also the first winter in more than 40 years that the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown will not be open. The year-round emergency shelter closed in April.

“It is a change to what we had in the past,” Agustin said. “We’re going to keep an eye on that. In terms of what we find after this night, and the conversations that we need to have moving forward, it will be to make sure that we do have space to accommodate those who are in need.”

People needing shelter can go to the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center, 1212 N. 13th St., north of downtown, Agustin said. Buses will transport people from there to the additional overnight shelters beginning at 6 p.m.

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