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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis faces fair housing complaint over new homeless shelter's location

Carr Square residents Kevin Costello and Joseph Futrell gather petitions against Biddle House outside the public forum introducing the agencies that applied to run it on Wed. May, 25, 2016.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio
Residents of the Carr Square neighborhood gather signatures against Biddle House on May 25, 2016. The city faces a fair housing complaint over its decision to open the homeless shelter in the neighborhood.

A new homeless shelter north of downtown St. Louis violates the U.S. Constitution by promoting segregation, according to a complaint lodged Monday with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by two St. Louis-area state representatives.  

Democratic Reps. Bruce Franks Jr., and Joshua Peters are asking the federal agency to investigate whether the city violated the Fair Housing Act when it opened the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center in the Carr Square neighborhood north of downtown in August.

Biddle House is meant to replace the the services offered by the Bridge day shelter and the New Life Evangelistic Center, both of which were located in downtown before closing. 

The complaint alleges that putting Biddle House in a poor, majority-black neighborhood violates the Constitution because it promotes segregation. That mirrors accusations leveled by Carr Square Tenant Management Association attorney Darryl Piggee against the city in 2016, when it secured funding to open the Biddle shelter.

"We had no recourse but to stand up in defiance of the continued practice of segregating minorities and less affluent populations, which continues to define the St. Louis region," Peters said in a news release about the complaint.

Peters, Franks, city officials and the federal housing department did not respond Monday to requests for comment. 

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