Tents gone, unhoused relocated as city moves forward with evictions at Laclede’s Landing
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Scraps of trash and debris are all that remain Friday evening along downtown’s riverfront, after the city’s push to decommission a homeless campsite at Laclede’s Landing.
“I’m sad. It’s hard to watch this,” said Michael Jones, who is an unhoused resident in St. Louis. “A lot of people are hurting before this, and now where are they going to go.”
Jones and other unhoused residents packed their bags and items this morning, 10 days since the city issued an eviction notice for people to leave Laclede’s Landing and find alternative forms of housing.
“I’ve been on both sides,” said Jones. “No, I wouldn’t allow this to happen in my front yard. There’s needles and broken bottles and you can’t set your bag down, but on the same place, there’s got to be some place people can go. I mean some people choose to be outdoors, some people don’t. I just don’t know where I stand. I know it can’t happen close to one of our biggest money makers. I know it can’t happen on our city skyline. When you come across the train you see all the trash down here, I mean that can’t be allowed. On the same hand the city is not giving us any other options here.”
Outreach organizations against the city’s move to decommission the encampment came down to the riverfront Friday to protest in solidarity with the unhoused population and provide additional support like food and clothing.
“We’re here to stand with them and for them, because there is truly nowhere else for these people to go,” said Kenney Dolan, who is a member with Tent Mission STL.
City leaders say members of the department of human services and homeless outreach providers were out Friday assisting the unhoused population living on the landing to get alternative forms of housing.
A spokesperson with the St. Patrick’s Center, for example, tells News 4 they helped with transportation for some of the unhoused residents who were leaving the landing this morning, as well as provided shelter at their 24-hour safe haven Grace House to at least three people.
It’s something that developers on the landing have been pushing the city to do for over a year.
“There was definitely a point where we had a very difficult time trying to get lenders and banks to invest in an area that was having major issue with the unhoused and the addiction and all the issues that come along with it,” said Gretchen Minges. “At the end of the day I do understand as a business owner that also the city was held to confines of trying to find resources and beds for the unhoused.”
Minges is a real estate developer with Advantes Group, which owns multiple properties on the landing.
“I don’t want it to appear like we are these evil developers who are out here and don’t care about people, because we do genuinely care,” said Minges. “It’s just not a humane situation for people to be living and we’re glad that the city is doing what they said they would and finding housing and resources for those who need it.”
As of Friday evening a city spokesperson tells News 4 all residents at the riverfront have left, either by being connected into housing or on their own, and all residents were offered resources to help with the transition.
DHS and providers aided with transportation to housing, and others were provided passes for Metro, Amtrak, or Greyhound if requested.
Yet, some homeless outreach organizations remain skeptical that enough city resources are available to prevent people from winding up on the streets again.
“Probably at best it’s neglectful, at worst it’s lacking humanity, because a lot of the city’s resources, if you will, are inaccurate,” said Kelsie Eversmeyer, a volunteer with Tent Mission STL.
According to the city, staff have carefully reviewed items to hold at a storage facility. The remaining items left behind Friday will be cleaned up after ensuring the area is free of dangerous items, including propane tanks.
City crews also began putting up a fence around the landing’s port where the encampment used to be, which the city says will be in place until they can determine the amount of work needed to repair and restore the port.
Long term, DHS plans to set people on a path to permanent housing and they do plan to continue working with local partners to put these individuals on that path.
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