Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Isn't Meeting the Needs of the Homeless; Inadequate Resources; Attempt to Label New Life Evangelistic Center as a Nuisance Is the Wrong Way to Fight the Problem

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Isn't Meeting the Needs of the Homeless; Inadequate Resources; Attempt to Label New Life Evangelistic Center as a Nuisance Is the Wrong Way to Fight the Problem

Article excerpt

This commentary is directed to the St. Louis Board of Public Service to directly respond to the presentation of a petition naming New Life Evangelistic Center as a nuisance property. We have a radically different view of the situation than the one stated in the petition. We feel the complaints raised in the petition are improperly directed at NLEC. Some issues targeted in the petition address individual behavioral issues that arise and are not the responsibility of New Life. Most of the "nuisance" issues listed, however, highlight the reality that there are hundreds more homeless men, women and children than the current St. Louis shelter network is equipped to provide for and this is the responsibility of and an opportunity for, us all.

The unmet needs of the homeless include an extreme lack of available shelter space and few places where the homeless are allowed to sit downtown while awaiting shelter. (This has increased with the closing of Lucas Park, the curfew in other downtown parks, new restrictions in the recently renovated library, moving the homeless from one side of the bridge to the other to be out of eyesight of neighbors and then moving them back again, the recent effort to end the homeless congregating at Union Station and the erecting of barriers on the sidewalks in front of New Life.) The unmet needs also include lack of public restrooms, lack of adequate access to affordable transportation, which greatly hampers opportunity for employment, the lack of shower and laundry facilities and the lack of lockers or safe places where the homeless can store their personal belongings.

While we have some great programs such as The Bridge, St. Patrick Center and the Horizon Club, they are inadequate to meet the needs of the large numbers of homeless in St. Louis. If this were not so, we would not see the significant numbers of people congregating outside at The Bridge, St. Patrick Center, NLEC, parks and other public spaces in the evening while awaiting shelter or the excessive numbers of people who have no choice but to stay at the overcrowded NLEC space. There are also great efforts being made to provide for permanent housing for the homeless, but these efforts take time and demand that a way be provided for those who do not yet have access to these programs. …

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