Schnucks joins conversation to clean up homelessness, trash around South Grand location

“It is a sign but I want to see a follow through,” residents say grocer and city need to step up to tackle problems crippling the South City neighborhood.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - South City residents call homelessness a health crisis along South Grand and Gravois by Schnucks.

“You are exposed to many crimes because it’s a place of homeless people,” resident Mohammed Muggabo-Mupenda said.

“I’m seeing chicken bones, empty wrappers, liquor bottles, and beer bottles,” resident Jeffrey Deutsch added.

Trash and crime are now catching the attention of big business.

“We have a vested interest in working on these solutions to help people continue to feed their families,” Schnucks Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Bill Bradley said Thursday in the lobby of his South City store.

Schnucks sent a five-page letter Thursday to Ward 15 Alderwoman Megan Green. The letter outlines improvements the grocery chain is taking and calls on the city to step up to help combat the issues.

“We invest heavily in security, more than half-a-million dollars on security in the last year which is quite a bit more for a store this size in the metro,” Bradley shared.

Schnucks also states it works with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to secure a Behavioral Health Resource Officer. That individual would respond to disturbances involving an unhoused person or substance abuse victim.

“It is a sign but I want to see a follow through,” Deutsch said after hearing the plan.

“Neighbors are kind of getting fed up,” Alderwoman Green said.

Some residents are asking why this store is getting attention over others, like the Lindell and Downtown locations, known for similar issues.

Schnucks gives the credit to pressure from Alderwoman Green.

“We have a number of businesses up and down Grand that do generate a lot of trash beyond Schnucks which is why we need a community solution,” Green said.

Green said the solution is expanding the South Grand Community Improvement District. It’s a property tax assessment to fund everything from public safety to economic development.

Schnucks passed on joining the CID last year, saying this would be passed onto customers amid inflation and it doesn’t fix anything.

“We could all always do more, right, but we have to come together. We have to take some level of action,” Bradley said.

“The back of that Schnucks is the base of the Cherokee mile that has been developing nicely over the last years,” Deutsch explained. “To have that nicely developed neighborhood back up to that trash heap is an embarrassment to the City of St. Louis.

“Every store is important,” Bradley explained. “Every customer. Every team member. It’s all important to us.”

Part of Schnucks’ demands of the city is to enforce nuisance ordinances like public intoxication, loitering, and public urination, among others. The goal is to re-train offenders to re-enter the workforce. This happens through SLMPD’s 911 Diversion Program mentioned above, further utilizing the Behavioral Health Resource officer.

The city told News 4 in a statement ARPA money is available.

“The City of St. Louis has invested $15.5 million in ARPA funding towards expanding community violence intervention programs, including $2.3 million in 911 call diversion, to address root causes of crime while improving public safety,” Nick Dunne with Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office explained. “City officials will continue to work with businesses and residents along South Grand to address their concerns and welcome Schnucks to be part of the solution if they choose to join.”

Schnucks said it wants to be a part of the solution and is ready to hire anyone who completes the above program.

The next step is for Alderwoman Green to take Schnucks’ letter to the Tower Grove South Neighborhood Association and get community response.

That meeting is next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

News 4 will continue to follow this story to get answers.