ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The kindness of strangers may come to the rescue after City Hall orders a dozen homeless people living in tents to get off the sidewalk near a city-sponsored homeless shelter on Biddle Street.
Three private property owners showed up along tent row, on 13th Street at Biddle, offering to let them camp temporarily on their land.
Nadine Rice says she’s got a vacant lot in north St. Louis.
“And it’s a pretty big lot, and they could do it temporarily,” Rice said, “They can come put their tents up there if they have to move temporarily.”
Two other private property owners offering to let the homeless camp in their yards declined to give their names. One man who lives in Old North St. Louis says he doesn’t want the police to know.
“I don’t want the police showing up there, if there was a bunch of tents in my back yard,” he said, “The city has a non-camping ordinance.”
The eviction of the sidewalk tent dwellers underscores a problem with the city’s current policy toward the homeless, according to Tina Busch, a worker with the St. Louis Winter Outreach program. Busch says many homeless don’t have a cell phone nor the social skills to navigate the application process for getting a bed.
“There is no walk-up shelter in the city of St. Louis,” Busch said, “That went away when New Life closed. I’m not a New Life advocate–I’m just saying there is no walk-up shelter space that people can just go to when they’re left out in the cold.”
Meanwhile, the Reverend Larry Rice of the now-closed New Life shelter was on the scene at tent row, saying he has a plan to get the homeless to stay on the grassy back lot of a church around the corner.
“We’re trying to rent a church lot down the street,” Rice said, “The church won’t vote on it until Sunday morning.”
Rice showed KMOX the lot behind the Strangers Home Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Russell Hammond was not available for comment.