Ending homelessness is a difficult, but not impossible, goal for St. Louis. It is one the City set for itself several years ago when we announced a Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in St. Louis.
Our efforts have moved hundreds of people from the streets into homes or other supportive communities — matching them with the services that they need. St. Louis’s plan has worked because of the strong partnerships we have built throughout the community. Although much remains to be done, our successes have attracted national attention.
Tomorrow, the City’s Department of Human Services will hold their 5th Annual National Project Homeless Connect, one of 200 such events across the country. More than 1,500 people have been served locally by the project in the past five years.
Project Homeless Connect links homeless people to a variety of services at a central location. This year’s event will be held from 10:00am to 2:00pm at Harris-Stowe State University — Emerson Performing Arts Building. Services provided this year will include enrollment in mainstream services such as social security and veterans benefits, legal services, employment assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling, health related services, and access to e-mail and long distance phone calls.
It will also include housing — a central element of our plan. Access to housing services will be provided through the City’s new “Hope Is Moving Initiative” that was recently launched with $8.4 million from ARRA. Bill Siedhoff calls the addition of housing to this year’s Project Homeless Connect “a giant leap forward.”
I continue to believe that the rest of the region is lagging in its funding and support for homeless services. But tomorrow’s program will show of the full range of what committed partners can accomplish.