The City of St. Louis is the region's major provider of services to people who are homeless. That fact draws people from throughout the region to the city. As we begin a new initiative to improve how we do things, we are also calling on the rest of the region to step up.
Building a new system of emergency shelter starts with safe, clean, well-managed, lower-density facilities that are good neighbors and are accountable to the public.
True success rests on how quickly the people who seek shelter can be moved out and into permanent housing.
For many years, the City of St. Louis and generous givers to the United Way, Catholic Charities, and other nonprofits and faith groups that serve people in need, have done most of the work to help men, women, and families who are homeless.
Many people from other communities who fall into homelessness seek help in the City of St. Louis. That's because we welcome and serve all people. We serve people from St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and the Metro East who fall into homelessness.
We need neighboring communities and counties to join this effort. We will continue to offer help, but we need them to do more for their own citizens.
I have asked Director Roth to contact his peers at public agencies that provide human services in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and in the Metro East in St. Clair County and Madison County. I have asked him to explore with them how we could work together.
We will offer them help to establish emergency shelter in their own communities. They could join with us in providing housing for people who are homeless, who with just a little help could stabilize their lives. Other communities also could help establish more places for some of our most vulnerable neighbors - people with chronic, serious mental illness - so they can live safely, off the street, as good neighbors.
There also are lots of opportunities to help people facing a temporary crisis - the kind that any of us might face, and but for the grace of God, could result in any of us being evicted from a home.
The City of St. Louis has much experience in doing all of these things. We're eager to share our ideas with our neighbors - and find ways to pursue this important and rewarding work together.