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St. Louis advocates call for more homeless services

February 3, 2019

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis homeless advocates are criticizing the city’s emergency shelter response to the dangerously cold weather that gripped Missouri this week, and are calling for a permanent 24-hour shelter.

Elad Gross, a Democratic candidate for Missouri attorney general, organized a protest Wednesday in St. Louis, where advocates argued that the city’s warming centers and buses wouldn’t be enough to help the homeless during the subzero temperatures.

“We need something to happen right now and we need more long-term solutions too,” Gross said. “Many folks for the last year have been calling on the city to do a better job with the unhoused.”

Mayor Lyda Krewson said St. Louis opened 11 emergency shelters on Tuesday, while police and emergency responders searched city streets for anyone in need of help.

A coalition of church groups, nonprofits and volunteers also shuttled homeless to the shelters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Gross said the city relies too heavily on volunteers and churches that can’t afford to take as many people in when temperatures drop.

“That burden can’t be undertaken by so many of these churches, that are trying to do the best, because they want people to stay alive,” he said.

Ben Rosensweig, who participated in the protest this week, criticized the city for only offering one pickup location to take homeless residents to a shelter. Advocates also criticized the warming centers for only being opened for a limited window of time, and not later into the night.

The arctic conditions across the St. Louis region this week led to the closure of many school districts and the canceling of dozens of flights. Some electricity systems also temporarily froze, causing power outages.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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