From the home office.
Last week, after receiving complaints about loitering, drug use, and sanitation issues, the City announced a plan to address some of the health and safety issues that have resulted from as many as 40 people sleeping on the sidewalk outside of the New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) in the 1400 block of Locust St. On Thursday, the Streets Department closed the sidewalks, restricted parking, and thoroughly cleaned both Locust St. and St. Charles St.
Coupled with the street cleaning was a concerted human services, health, and public safety initiative that has already rendered some positive results. Through the combined efforts of the City's Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, and the Salvation Army, more than 40 homeless people, including two children, received assistance over a two day period. Services continue to be provided as needed. Additionally, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department increased its patrol throughout the week at this location.
During the two-day period, over 300 warm meals were provided on site by the Salvation Army and 50 personal hygiene kits were distributed by the Health Department to people in need. The Department of Human Services interviewed and assessed the housing needs of the people there and the Health Department screened six adults for sexually transmitted diseases. Crisis Nursery, which provides crisis care for kids at 11 different sites in the metropolitan area, transported two two-year-old boys to its Centene Center for temporary care and assisted the boys' families in securing housing. Additionally, Crisis Nursery discovered an urgent need for diapers and formula for the families residing in NLEC, and has committed to bringing supplies to the shelter on a weekly basis. Furthermore, NLEC also agreed to grant the Department of Health access to provide lead screening to children in the facility.
"We are seeing some progress but we've got a lot of work to do to ensure conditions continue to be safe and the people involved get the help they need," said William Siedhoff, Director of the Department of Human Services. "I'm very encouraged by this initial effort."
Pam Walker, Director of the Department of Health, added, "I'm grateful that the staff of my department will - for the first time ever - be able to provide lead screening for kids in the NLEC. That's a step in the right direction."
The City of St. Louis, along with its partners, will continue to offer services and focus attention on this area to ensure that any health and safety issues are addressed appropriately.