St. Louis City opens 24 hour warming shelters; St. Louis County offering services but experiencing difficulties

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:24 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Temperatures in the Metro are starting to drop, leaving concerns for those living on the streets.

The City of St. Louis launched winter operations Thursday to help support unhoused neighbors during the winter season.

The city’s Department of Human Services will continue to collaborate throughout the winter with funded and volunteer outreach organizations to ensure vulnerable residents can access more than 600 shelter beds, including 130 winter overflow beds.

DHS director Dr. Yusef Scoggin says an additional 50 beds will become available in the coming weeks.

“We wanna ensure that no one is on the streets and in harm’s way but additionally, we know that some folks struggle in their homes and sometimes have utility issues and other things that lead to their gas being cut off and some sort of emergency state may be necessary,” Scoggin says. “To that end, we wanted to ensure that we were bringing on additional beds.”

In addition to increasing shelter beds, the Department of Human Services has ensured that all city-funded shelter providers remain open 24/7 throughout the winter season, as well as provide wraparound services to address other underlying needs. This includes additional support for data collection to better assist unhoused residents in transitioning them into permanent housing.

“Those prior year services were operating only in an overnight capacity,” Scoggin says. “It’s important we really dig deep and develop relationships with people to provide the sort of case management that’s necessary to get them back permanently housed. The only way you can really do that is to be able to sit with people, talk with people and work through those issues during the wake hours.”

St. Louis City’s DHS has partnered with the Institute for Community Alliances to provide support to city-funded and volunteer shelter operators to collect data to ensure their clients are accounted for and can receive the support they need. It is also providing Greyhound and Metro passes to those facing challenges with transportation to reunite with their families.

The City’s Inclement Weather page has additional resources and will eventually have a map of available shelters once additional providers are confirmed.

St. Louis County partners with The Salvation Army, which has a 24-hour warming shelter.

It was supposed to open on December 1 but was unable to do so as planned.

The Salvation Army sent News 4 this statement:

“The weather is changing and as we do each year, The Salvation Army is providing warming centers throughout the St. Louis area. All our daytime warming centers are opening according to schedule this season. Our 24-hour warming center at Family Haven, in partnership with St. Louis County has experienced an unforeseen delay. We will do our best to accommodate those with immediate housing needs and expect this 24-hour warming center to be fully operational shortly. Individuals experiencing homelessness should continue to call United Way 211 for immediate assistance”

St. Louis County’s Department of Human Services says services will still be available to those in need.

Peter Glickert with the county’s DHS says people are able to access shelters in the county by calling 211.

“They’ll be able to locate what facilities and resources are available in that region,” Glickert says. “They’re not gonna say, hop on a bus to The Salvation Army. They’re gonna work with you to make sure you have the facilities and resources available to you in the nearest possible location.”

Glickert says the county also wants to offer long-term solutions and care for those who are unhoused and in need of help.

“You come to us and you’re unhoused, you can either discharge yourself or what we’ll do is make sure you have a housing plan before you leave,” Glickert says. “You’ll never just be put back out onto the street. We’ll say do you want resources, do you want any type of facilities, that sort of thing.”

Winter response operations continue through March.

Anyone seeking shelter or offering support to unhoused neighbors in the city or the county is encouraged to contact 211 for available beds.