There is a story in today’s daily newspaper about an item that appeared in this space a week or so ago. If you missed it, MayorSlay.com - not the City website - ran an item from a reader who said that he and some friends saw the Northwoods police drop a homeless person off in downtown’s Lucas Park. Given downtown neighbors’ continuing concerns about such practices, that seemed worth reposting - and, even, worth some real reporting.
Too bad, then, that the newspaper’s reporter left some important loose ends in his story. Here’s some of what the newspaper story did not report:Northwoods police dropped a person off at downtown’s Lucas Park just before midnight on a cold night. If he had a home or an apartment, why didn’t the police take him there?The person was homeless - and the Northwoods police had pretty good reason to know it. The address the person gave on his arrest report was a homeless shelter.Northwoods police apparently did not check whether the New Life Evangelistic Center or other downtown facilities were closed for the night by then. If they were closed, why didn’t Northwoods police take the person to a shelter that was open, instead of leaving him in a public park? The City of St. Louis, for instance, operates an emergency shelter at 12th and Park.
Here is the point.
Homelessness exists in the City and in the suburbs. But, far fewer services are provided in the surburbs than in the City. So, most of the people from the suburbs who don’t have a place to stay make their way to the City on their own - or, in some cases, are dumped off in the City by others.
The suburbs have to do more of their part. Until then, both well-intentioned - and less well-intentioned - people will bring homeless people to shelters - and public spaces - in the City.
If you see the practice, please report it to us. We’ll continue to pass the information along.