Couple married & pregnant homeless outside City Hall; STL moves to open more shelters

For two weeks, William and Erica Clay have been sleeping in tents outside City Hall, underneath the mayor’s window.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - For two weeks, William and Erica Clay have been sleeping in tents outside City Hall, underneath the mayor’s window.

“No one has come down out of this building to even talk to us and find out why we’re here,” says unhoused resident William Clay.

Clay’s wife, Erica, is seven months pregnant. The two do not plan on leaving until St. Louis tackles the unhoused population taking over the city.

“They getting all this money, and I don’t see them doing anything to help the homelessness here in this city,” Clay says.

The mayor’s office tells First Alert 4 that they have tried to help the pair; however, finding a place for them is difficult because of the lack of housing options for married couples.

On Wednesday, St. Louis City’s Planning Commission moved forward with proposals to fix the city’s growing homeless epidemic.

The board agreed to send these plans to the Board of Aldermen for consideration.

The new suggestions include removing the signature process to open a shelter, clarifying current policy definitions and allowing additional shelter locations to start across the city.

Now, homeless shelters aren’t permitted in any zoning district in St. Louis City.

“Everybody asks why are there so many homeless people. It’s because the present city policy makes it difficult, if not impossible, to really try to help these people,” Ray Redlich of New Life Evangelistic Center, says.

Redlich is working to reopen the New Life Evangelistic Center, which was for the unhoused, but it closed in 2017 due to code violations.

“By removing some of these barriers to open up shelters it will go a long way in getting people off the streets,” Redlich says. “I’m glad to hear that there might be changes in city policies.”

The city also compared its current homeless situation with other similar cities that have recently revamped their policies. They include Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Portland, Buffalo and Rolla. The research concluded St. Louis is behind since its zoning rules restrict additional homeless shelters.

For the Clay family, they are praying something is done before their baby is born.

“It can happen to anyone. Don’t think it can’t happen to you because it happened to us,” Clay said.