Leaders brainstorm solutions to homeless encampment violence

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:16 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Recent violence near a homeless encampment in Laclede’s Landing has local leaders searching for ways to address such encampments.

The city removed a homeless encampment near Laclede’s Landing in March, but since then a new encampment has formed nearby. A resident of the camp died in a fatal shooting on Memorial Day morning.

A city spokesperson says they send out workers and work with groups to provide social services to residents who live in these encampments. But local Alderwoman Cara Spencer says it is past due for the city to figure out a long-term, collaborative fix to address violence, drugs, and mental illness inside homeless communities.

“You have businesses Downtown that are really negatively impacted by failing to address homelessness comprehensively,” Spencer said. “You walk down to the landing and unfortunately... There’s a lot of issues going on here.”

Spencer says removing homeless encampments are a temporary fix that isn’t solving the problem. Instead, she wants the city to look at ways for different groups in both government and the private sector to work together. News 4 asked St. Louis Police Chief Robert Tracy if the department planned to remove the new encampment, given the city removed a similar one in March. He says it is not that simple.

“We’re going to make sure we don’t criminalize homelessness,” Tracy said. ‘I’ve done this in other cities, that we can be compassionate. We can move them to get the unhoused housed, get them the help they need, mental health and addiction issues.”