St. Louis is preparing 186 more beds across the city for people who are homeless during the coldest months of the year.
Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Wednesday that these beds will be available in December when the city begins its continuous Cold Weather Shelter & Outreach services. The beds are meant to serve as overflow options in addition to the 930 beds available year-round, Krewson said. They will be available in a variety of locations such as churches.
To buy the additional beds and supplies, the city has set aside $500,000 from a tax businesses pay on out-of-state purchases, said Irene Agustin, the city’s director of human services.
The additional beds and winter shelters will be open Dec. 1 through Feb. 29, Krewson said. Until then and in March, those resources will only be available if temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Last year’s temperature threshold was 20 degrees or 25 degrees with precipitation.
“I recognize that most of the interest in the subject comes when it gets cold, but it's important to recognize that this is our year-round effort,” Krewson said. “It's night shelters and day shelters with case management. It's warm meals. It's safe and welcoming places to take a shower and sleep — and potentially lifesaving resources like warming buses and transportation.”
Krewson said the city will provide those in need with Metro Transit passes for traveling to different shelters and will continue reserving Metro buses to use as warming centers in the evenings.
The city coordinates with numerous community organizations to manage services for people who are homeless. Teka Childress, a member of partner organization St. Louis Winter Outreach, said the additional beds will “be a great help.”
“There’s still so many people sleeping outside, and we need to provide for their needs,” Childress said. “I’m just extremely grateful that the city is putting more funding toward this.”
Krewson said winter beds and shelters will be available Wednesday night with temperatures forecast in the 30s.
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