(KMOV.com) – The City of St. Louis is working to improve their communication process for Winter Operations to ensure no one is left outside in the freezing temperatures.
On Wednesday night, Susan Luepker, the owner of the Feasting Fox in South St. Louis ran into issues trying to find a woman a place to stay for the night.
“This was just something that touched your heart,” said Luepker, after a woman in her thirties came into the bar.
Luepker make more than dozen calls to shelters and city services, but had no luck, so she called News4.
News4 made calls to 211 and other shelters, some, like Gateway 180 required a police escort, others like Biddle House said they were men only.
After posting about the issue to Twitter, many city residents, volunteers and city leaders, including Mayor Lyda Krewson reached out with answers.
“Direct to Biddle Housing 1212 N. 13th St.-we will transport to overflow if needed. Will accommodate anyone in need of a shelter bed at any time,” tweeted Mayor Lyda Krewson,
But again, Luepker was told by Biddle House it was only open to men seeking shelter.
Irene Agustin, the city’s Director of Human Services, says the communication issue has been addressed.
“I touched base with 211 today, I touched base with the front desk here at Biddle House Opportunity Center, so that they understand everyone can come here during winter operations,” said Agustin.
The city has volunteers, employees and police working around the clock to ensure no one has to sleep on the streets, but there are other issues. Including transportation. Police officers will pick up those in need of shelter, but some, like the woman who showed up at Feasting Fox, are uncomfortable going with police and instead would rather brave the weather.
“She just shut down, and said ‘I’ll be OK, I’ll be OK,” Luepker said when she told the woman police would take her to the shelter.
Teka Childress works with STL Winter Outreach and says that’s a common problem.
“People are sometimes afraid to go with police so it’s important for other people to come out and get them to places they need to go,” said Childress who along with other volunteers drives around looking for those out in the cold.
Childress says the bottom line is everyone must work together to ensure the safety of all St. Louisians.
“You could die in this weather, no one deserves that,” said Childress.
Since Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center closed earlier this year, there is no longer a walk-in shelter. Agustin says that’s something they’re looking into.
“In terms for the need of another walk-in shelter, that’s what the city is looking at, but we’re focusing on how do we get people in housing, is there a need for a [walk-in shelter], and what can we do to speed up our services?,” said Agustin.
She said if you are looking to help someone in need of shelter, the first step is to call 2-1-1. You can also call Biddle House at (314) 612-1675 or show up at the location, 1212 N. 13th Street.
You can also call STL Winter Outreach at 314-974-2552 which is working with volunteers to pick up those in need.
According to STL Winter Outreach, the AmeriCorps Shelter is also open as a walk-in shelter at 1315 Ann.
They could also use donations including blankets (thick twin size), gloves (men's size), and hats. You can drop them off at Mokabes at Arsenal and Grand.
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