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February 24, 2015

St. Louis Homeless Shelter Fights Order to Limit Intake

A long-serving homeless shelter in St. Louis's gentrifying former garment district is resisting efforts by local officials and nearby property owners to sharply restrict the number of people it can take in, writes The New York Times. Acting on an appeal from local stakeholders, the St. Louis Board of Public Service last week ordered the New Life Evangelistic Center, which takes in as many as 300 people a night, to limit occupancy to 32 by May.

The Rev. Larry Rice, the center's leader, attributed the effort to an influx of wealthier people who "considered the homeless a nuisance [and] don't want them around." Proponents of the restrictions say the shelter draws drug dealing, fights, and other ills to the neighborhood but also contend it represents an outmoded model that keeps the homeless in a cycle of emergency aid. St. Louis has adopted a "housing-first" approach that emphasizes providing social services and getting people into permanent housing.