The City of St. Louis today established rules to protect safety at encampments along the Riverfront. "Services and shelter are available for homeless people," said Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff. "Services provided by qualified people are much more effective and much more humane than an encampment - especially for homeless people who might be addicted to drugs and alcohol, or who have mental disorders. But the law does not allow us to force people to receive services. So, if they won't accept services, we want to make sure they are safe."
The City has taken the position that it will allow the encampments as long as the people living there don't bother or hurt themselves or others, and as long as public safety and public health are not put in jeopardy.
To help do that, the City is requiring the following:
* No drugs or criminal activity by anyone. * No drunkenness by anyone. * The people living in the encampments must cooperate with police, the Health Department, and the Fire Department at all times. * They must keep the area clean, and free from hazards.
The City, for its part, plans to prepare so it can protect health and safety:
* The Fire Department is pre-planning so it can respond to a fire or other emergency. * The Human Services Department is going to do a census count to help the Fire Department plan for an emergency. * The Health Department will regularly inspect the encampment.
"We are going to allow the people there to use legal sources of energy to stay warm," said Chief Dennis Jenkerson. "If they use propane or build a fire in a responsible way, no one will get hurt. But, if they use propane or build an open fire while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, someone could get hurt."
As it has said in the past, the City reserves the right to dismantle the encampments if the residents bother or hurt others or if the individuals put themselves or others in danger. The City will continue to offer homeless services to those who want them.