The City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will focus on a stretch of Locust Street just west of 14th street to increase public safety and public health. These few blocks of Locust have become a gathering place for many individuals who appear to be homeless. Nearby residents have complained of unsanitary conditions with people defecating and urinating on the street and sidewalks, have worried about very young children spending the night outside, and have reported excessive drinking and drug use resulting in fights, excessive noise, and other altercations. There has been a spike in calls for police service in that area.
"The individuals in this area seem to prefer to be outside of the New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) instead of entering the facility," said Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff. "I have been told by NLEC staff that they have sufficient space to accommodate all the individuals who gather outside their facility. It appears that some people who are homeless choose to remain on the street due to concerns about the condition inside the NLEC. Having children sleeping outside the shelter at all hours of the night is intolerable and we want to make sure that the children, especially, have a safe place to stay while their parents find a stable place to live. The Human Services Department will refer people to the Housing Resource Center for placement in emergency shelters."
The City and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have developed a plan to keep that area of Locust clean and provide services to the people who congregate there. Beginning Wednesday, September 5th, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health will be out in force to provide access to services, food, and shelter. Salvation Army will provide its "canteen services," which includes a warm meal for homeless individuals. Children who are homeless will be referred to Crisis Nursery as their parents transition to places with supportive services and/or temporary housing. The Department of Health will provide health screenings for HIV, Hepatitis C, and lead poisoning and will be distributing hygiene kits. The Streets Department will temporarily block that specific area to pedestrians and traffic beginning September 5th and will send crews to thoroughly wash the street and sidewalk. The Police Department will be on hand and will provide increased presence. Parking will be restricted on both sides of the 1400 block of Locust Street and the east side of 15th Street from Locust to St. Charles Streets.
"I thank the Police Department for arresting troublemakers in the area," said Siedhoff. "By dispersing this gathering and offering the individuals service, we will be better able to control the situation, help individuals who need it, and improve public safety in the area. Our goal is to do this as a preventative measure."
The City and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will continue this special enforcement through the weekend and continue on an as-needed basis.