Neighbors fed up as homeless squatters take over South City neighborhood

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A homeless camp has been set up in the middle of a St. Louis City neighborhood. Rayshaun Baskin sees the encampment every day from his window.

“You see the drug activity, the drug transactions, the prostitution,” says homeowner Rayshaun Baskin. “First it was two or three, okay that’s cool but then you see 20, 25,30 it becomes different.”

Squatters were seen taking over abandoned properties in South City on Virginia Avenue. A News 4 camera captured one of them making dinner on the grill Wednesday night.

A woman was also seen building a door out of plywood.

“It makes me feel like this part of our city has been neglected. They’re not watching out for us,” says neighbor Allen Wilson. “When I look out the window I will often see homeless people going down the street.”

Allen Wilson lives a few doors down and places the blame on city officials.

“They’ve said their hands are tied but you have to do something with these people,” says Wilson. “Winter is coming. Come on, get them out of these places. It isn’t safe for them or us.”

The mayor’s office said it knows about the situation.

“The city is aware,and since this is on private property, public safety departments have been involved,” says spokesman Nick Desideri.

“They’re not doing anything. They don’t show up,” says Baskin. “It’s not on everybody who are homeowners anymore. It has to be on the city at this point because all of this money that they claim that they have, where is it?”

Emails from the Baskin family show the city has known about the encampment for months.

“We started this fight in February and now it’s about to be October,” says Baskin. “How much more patience do I have to have?”

“They’re allowing what could be a good neighborhood to go downhill,” says Wilson.

City of St. Louis Public Safety Program Manager Monte Chambers tells News 4 the city is working on the issue.

“The Department of Public Safety has been working alongside the Department of Human Services, SLMPD, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Team toward a solution that keeps neighbors safe,” Chambers said. “Since this is also an issue regarding private property, the Department of Public Safety has engaged the Problem Properties Unit.”