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St. Louis will boost the number of beds at its emergency homeless shelter this winter

File photo | Hannah Westerman | St. Louis Public Radio
The Biddle Housing Opportunities Center north of downtown will add 50 beds this winter. It currently has overnight space for 100 men.

The city of St. Louis plans to add more beds to its Biddle homeless shelter, north of downtown, starting on Monday.

The shelter currently has room for 100 men to stay overnight. Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Thursday that Biddle House will make space for an additional 50 men until the end of March.

Krewson said the city hopes the expansion will encourage individuals who have been homeless for extended periods to seek shelter, and most importantly, get access to services.

“The goal here is to really get folks into permanent housing,” Krewson said. She added that since January 2017, about 500 people who got services at Biddle House have found a permanent place to live.

The 50 extra beds at Biddle House may also take some of the pressure off the volunteers and organizations who run Winter Outreach. The program operates emergency shelters at churches and other places on the coldest nights of the year.

Krewson said the city and volunteers will be working hard to ensure no one dies on the streets this winter. At least two people died last winter because they did not have shelter — it was the first one without the New Life Evangelistic Center, which the city shut down in April 2017. The city acknowledged in January that the closure left gaps in its ability to serve people who are homeless.

“New Life was not up to the standards that would we want, and so it was up to us to bring that capacity back,” Krewson said on Thursday. “I believe that we have significantly addressed that capacity.”

This month, the city granted New Life’s founder, the Rev. Larry Rice, a permit to operate a church at the building at 1411 Locust St. in Downtown. Rice will not be allowed to house people overnight.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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