Local bakery hiring homeless workers says attempts to find housing has hit roadblocks, asking city and landlords for help

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 10:52 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A local bakery hiring homeless employees says attempts to find housing have hit roadblocks. It is asking the city and landlords for help.

As St. Louis City clears out homeless encampments on the riverfront and shelters face capacity limits, a local non-profit wants to help be a part of the solution.

“If we had landlords out there that were like, ‘We care about this population too but we just don’t know how to get involved like let’s partner up,” says Rachel Hensold of Bridge Bread Bakery.

Located on Cherokee Street, Bridge Bread Bakery is celebrating its grand opening after a decade of work as a nonprofit finding jobs and housing for the city’s homeless population.

The bakery hires bakers who are homeless and want to work to get a place of their own. Andre Robinson has lived in encampments, shelters, and abandoned homes for a decade. He is one of eight bakers at Bridge Bread Bakery.

“Some shelters treat you like a nobody,” says Andre Robinson. “I haven’t worked in 10 years, so I’m just trying to stay motivated and get back to work.”

Hensold is a program manager and is in charge of helping unhoused employees find housing. She says the rental applications are the biggest roadblock.

“One of the questions was what was the last place that you were on the lease? She couldn’t answer that question,” says Hensold. “She hasn’t been on the lease because she lived with a daughter, a husband or a family member. That’s a story for a lot of our bakers, and another one was a credit score.”

“I think the City of St. Louis should give us more opportunities as far as hiring homeless people because it’s a lot of homeless people that are willing to work,” says Robinson.

“Why are we weeding out people that are willing to work for their money and are working hard for their money?” says Hensold.

Bridge Bakery is asking the mayor’s office, property owners, and social service organizations to form an alliance to help get more homeless people off the streets.

“You’re supporting someone who is unhoused who is trying to make a way for themselves,” says Hensold.

Residents who want to help are encouraged to stop by the bakery and buy baked goods. All sales go towards helping homeless workers build a better life. Bridge Bread Bakery is open Friday and Saturday from 10 am-4pm. For more information call (314) 296-3077.