St. Louis mayor appoints new human services director, replacing longtime leader
Updated —- with comments from the chair of the St. Louis Continuum of Care
St. Louis County official Yusef Scoggin will become the next head of the city's Department of Human Services, Mayor Tishaura Jones announced Friday.
Scoggin has led the county’s Office of Family and Community Services since 2017 and serves as co-chair of the St. Louis Area Regional Commission on Homelessness.
In a statement, Jones called Scoggin’s experience a “strong asset to the city of St. Louis” that will help support the area's homeless population during a critical time.
The Jones administration is working to invest more resources in the human services department and bolster support for homeless services citywide.
St. Louis has allocated more than $40 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act toward homeless services, including emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing and a city-sanctioned encampment.
Officials in the Jones administration have also pledged to repair the historically tense relationship between homeless service providers and the city — and some hope that Scoggin will help foster more collaboration between the two.
Shanna Nieweg leads the St. Louis Continuum of Care, an umbrella organization of more than a hundred groups that advises the city on issues related to homelessness.
“There’s been a broken connection between the Continuum of Care and the Department of Human Services for a very long time,” said Nieweg. “I hope those repairs are on the way.”
Nieweg said she’s worked with Scoggin for years and has high hopes for him in this new role. “He’s a very hands-on individual,” she said. “If he sees a problem that needs to be fixed — and if there’s no one around to do it — he steps in to do it himself. That really speaks volumes.”
Rather than relying solely on short-term shelters, it’s critical to create comprehensive programs for people experiencing homelessness, Scoggin told St. Louis Public Radio in January.
“Nobody wants to end up in these situations,” Scoggin said. “What do we need to talk about to make systems recognize that you matter and create programs, opportunities and structures that don’t discriminate against you?”
Scoggin, who begins work Oct. 20, replaces Valerie Russell, a longtime St. Louis city official and current human services director.
Russell served as deputy director of the department for nearly two decades before being appointed director last February by former Mayor Lyda Krewson.
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