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Advocate seeks site for permanent homeless encampment in St. Louis

(KWMU staff)
Homeless people in St. Louis set up a temporary 'tent city' across from City Hall to demonstrate the need for a permanent encampment.

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – St. Louis homeless advocate Larry Rice wants the city to set aside an acre of land for a permanent homeless encampment.

Sunday night several hundred homeless people slept in a park across from City Hall.

The tent city was part of a demonstration Reverend Rice organized to draw attention to the plight of the homeless, especially military veterans.

Rice says he wants a permanent settlement be modeled on one called Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon.

"For those who might say 'That's unsafe, unsanitary.' No," Rice said. "They have the leadership. They going to keep it clean there. How safe and sanitary is it for people to live in the parks and be shoved around from place to place?"

But St. Louis Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff says that's not a long term solution.

"I really think that's ridiculous," Siedhoff said. "I think the last thing homeless people need is a vacant lot."

Siedhoff says the city remains committed to ending chronic homelessness within a decade, through addiction treatment and the establishment of permanent housing.


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