Chronically homeless people draw some mail to my office. Most of it is heartfelt; some of it is contradictory.
To those who fear the presence of homeless people in the new Downtown neighborhoods and to those who demand new plans to help homeless people, we say the same thing: The City of St. Louis has taken several important steps to address the issue of chronic homelessness Downtown and throughout the City. Some of those steps have, unfortunately, resulted in lawsuits filed on behalf of homeless people as a class. More promising is the formation of a working coalition of City service providers. The coalition is making progress, but without much assistance — or parallel effort from suburban communities. As a result, improved services in the City inevitably draw more homeless people mostly men, mostly with other problems here from the suburbs.
Last Friday, the Missouri Housing Development Commission approved my request for funding to allow the St. Patrick Center to create 26 units of supportive, permanent housing for chronically homeless people. These are people-- primarily men-- who live on the streets, many of them Downtown.
This weekend, the City’s Human Services Department held an event to provide an array of services to help chronically homeless people. Almost 150 homeless people attended the event at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near Downtown.
During this cold weather, that rec center will be available as a shelter when other shelters are full. But, where will homeless people in the suburbs go?