A Brief History of Efforts Made to Have St. Louis County Executive Take the Leadership Role to Provide for the County Homeless

A Brief History of Efforts Made to Have St. Louis County Executive Take the Leadership Role to Provide for the County Homeless   For over a year now Reverend Larry Rice, accompanied by homeless men, women and children along with […]

A Brief History of Efforts Made to Have St. Louis County Executive Take the
Leadership Role to Provide for the County Homeless

 

For over a year now Reverend Larry Rice, accompanied by homeless men, women and children along with NLEC Staff members have repeatedly attempted to get St. Louis County Officials to provide shelter and transitional services to the homeless of St. Louis County.

In late 2011 and early 2012 Larry and Chris Rice, Ray Redlich and Carolyn Clay held two meetings with St. Louis County Human Services Director and the Homeless Services Coordinator. A face to face meeting also took place with County Executive Charles Dooley and his Chief of Staff Mike Jones.

On March 27, 2012 homeless advocates and the homeless marched from the St. Louis County Government Office to St. Mary’s Hospital. The purpose of this march was to highlight the death of a homeless County resident, Anna Brown and the on going needs of the St. Louis County homeless population. An additional march took place on April 6, 2012.

Numerous attempts continued to take place to get St. Louis County and its 90 municipalities to open shelters rather than send the homeless to downtown St. Louis. On June 28, 2012 Larry Rice started taking homeless people to the Galleria and using it as a County Day Shelter for the homeless in the extreme hot weather.

Saturday morning, August 11th Larry and Chris Rice moved 15 homeless people to a lot New Life Evangelistic Center owns in an unincorporated area in St. Louis County. Even though this new tent community was welcomed by a majority of the neighbors at the Lada Street lot, St. Louis County police, Mr. Mike Jones and various County officials arrived and threatened the inhabitants with arrest if the tents were not taken down. The advocates and residents agreed to comply after Mr. Jones indicated the county would take steps to open a shelter.

August 24th Larry Rice and 40 homeless people walk 10 miles from 1411 Locust Street to the St. Louis County Lada site to remind County officials, churches and municipalities of their responsibility to provide shelter for the homeless in their community.

Then the last week of August, James Potter and Tina Newman along with twelve women and children met with Mike Jones and Andrea Jackson-Jennings, the Director of St. Louis County Human Services. At that meeting they pledged to open a shelter and a transitional housing facility for the homeless.

August 31, 2012 County Executive Charles Dooley on Facebook stated that “My staff met with a group of homeless and advocates today, and we have informed them that St. Louis County is committed to the following 3 things:

  1. We will open a transitional housing facility and have it available by late fall.
  2. We will develop and finalize plans for an emergency shelter.
  3. We will assemble a coalition of clergy, non-profits and other stakeholders for a Homeless Summit in October.

The homeless are our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and children. We must start to address these issues as a community. Charlie”

After three weeks had passed and no visible action on the promises were taken by the County Executive, Larry Rice and James Potter along with thirty five homeless people visited Charles Dooley and Mike Jones’ office on September 21st. This was the one year anniversary of the death of Anna Brown. Not only were they rudely treated when they tried to get answers but security and county police threatened them with arrest if they tried to video events and if they did not leave. Continuing to believe that Charles Dooley and Mike Jones would fulfill their promises to the homeless, everyone left peaceably.

As the month of October passed and still no action was forthcoming from the County Executive’s office Larry Rice continued to try to contact Mike Jones.

The St. Louis County homeless were continually sent to New Life Evangelistic Center by hospitals, churches, municipalities and other entities.

Finally, after County Executive’s representative Mike Jones answers Larry Rice’s phone call in November 2012, Rev. Rice is told the County Executive will try to organize a forum in January.

Finding this totally unacceptable, Larry Rice with a homeless delegation went into the County Executives Office on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. This action was a result of four months passing and none of the promises being kept to help the homeless. After meeting with Mike Jones who now tells them a forum may or may not take place in February 2013 and giving no date when the promised shelter of transitional housing facility will open after the meeting Larry Rice and 3 homeless individuals remained on the 9th floor outside the county executive office. They were arrested an hour later for trespassing. All four were booked with Larry Rice. Ethel Buchanan and June Armstrong were released 3-4 hours after being arrested. James Moore, a homeless African American man, even though he had no outstanding warrants, was held 76 hours.

When James Moore was released he was told by the booking officers that “they had forgotten about him”. Some could question why James Moore was not released at the same time as the others.

Caring people are now asking why St. Louis County spends $6 million a year for the Football Stadium and in April will vote to link up with the city to fund the arch, trails and parks with another $760 million. In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. activists are asked to join the 26 hour informational picket outside the County Government Building from 11:00 a.m. January 16 to 1:00 p.m. January 17, 2013. Sign up now for four hours during this time period and let the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday become an event that brings about change for the most discriminated against group in America – the homeless.

If you would like to participate in this very important picket, please call Dulce Gaede at (314) 881-3218 to register and schedule your time.