The dedication of this beautiful new facility adds significant new resources to the City’s effort to end chronic homelessness. It also provides a sharp contrast to failed ways of helping people who live in misery on the streets.
A few years ago, we started to change the way we approach homelessness in St. Louis. We have since become a national model.
When I took office, providers helped the homeless by giving them a place to sleep and a meal. But, not nearly enough was done to give people a hand up to independence.
We changed that. We have switched to a housing first model.
Most people who live on the streets have an underlying mental illness, or are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Instead of warehousing them in unsafe, unsanitary shelters, we provide treatment for their illness, a place to live, and where possible, job training. Because our plan is so strong and well thought out, we have been awarded more than $50-million in grants to carry it out.
It is working. We are required to do annual hard counts of homeless people. According to our last count, the number of homeless people in St. Louis has fallen by 30% since 2005.
I believe helping people become independent and productive citizens is more humane than warehousing them. Not only is it a better approach for people who are chronically homeless, it makes neighborhoods stronger by reducing the sorts of nuisance crimes that frustrate people.
I would like to recognize Bill Siedhoff, Director of our Department of Human Services, and Antoinette Triplett, Manager of the Homeless Services Division, for their leadership and hard work,
Most of all, I want to congratulate Dan Buck, his staff and his board for their vision, their passion and their effectiveness. There are days when I wish Dan wasn’t so passionate. He can be persistent. But, on days like today, I am very glad that he pushes so hard.
The people at the St. Patrick’s Center are making a difference in people’s lives. I am proud to be your partner.