ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The city is backing away from its August deadline to clear the riverfront of homeless squatters – despite a murder there this spring over a $2 can of beer.
Lawyers advocating for the some 75 homeless who live along the river pressured the city to drop its timetable.
“Our position is there should be no sweeps, no forced evictions until permanent, supportive housing plans are offered,” said John Amman with the St. Louis University Law school. The legal clinics from St. Louis University, Washington University and lawyers with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri met recently with city officials.
The original goal to get the homeless tents off the riverfront by August was set by the city’s Director of Human Services, Bill Siedoff. Siedoff spoke to KMOX just days after the May 2 stabbing death of 36-year old Adrian Henderson. Another homeless man, Robert Boettcher, 50, is charged with 1st degree murder, and armed criminal acton in the death.
At the time of the stabbing, Siedoff said it was just the latest of dozens of emergency calls city police and paramedics have been forced to respond to for the homeless along the riverfront.
Amman says there aren’t enough beds in the local homeless system to absorb the residents of Hopeville, Sparta and Dignity Harbor, if the three camps were shut down right away.
“If you closed the camps tomorrow there would not be enough temporary housing to meet the needs of the residents without jumping ahead of everybody else on the waiting list,” Amman said.