News Release – July 23, 2012

News Release Homeless people from the Metro East and other areas of metropolitan St. Louis will apply for jobs and eat on Tuesday, July 24, at St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights. A news conference will be held at […]

News Release

Homeless people from the Metro East and other areas of metropolitan St. Louis will apply for jobs and eat on Tuesday, July 24, at St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights.

A news conference will be held at 11 a.m. in front of the Belleville Municipal Building, 101 S. Illinois St., Belleville, before the homeless go to St. Clair Square.

A lack of shelters in the Metro East has led to the homeless being dumped in St. Louis. The Rev. Larry Rice, president of New Life Evangelistic Center, which has homeless shelters in St. Louis, wants suburban cities and churches to take responsibility for their homeless. On Tuesday, those without housing from the Metro East will return for a day to remind communities of their responsibilities.

The city of Belleville forced its Salvation Army shelter to shut down in 2009. Homeless advocates in St. Clair County talk about opening a shelter more than five years from now. Meanwhile, people like Otha Bowman, 62, a homeless man in St. Clair County who died last week after heat exposure, will face more than five years of danger from the elements.

For more information, call Dulce Gaede 314-881-3218.

Why is St. Clair Square mall being used as a day shelter for the homeless?

1.    Most of St. Clair County has no day or night walk-in shelters for the homeless. St. Clair Square provides a place for the homeless to walk, wait, eat and share with the customers why businesses at the mall must encourage the opening of a homeless shelter in the area.

2.    Belleville had a Salvation Army shelter that the City Council forced to close in 2009. The council made no other arrangements for the homeless. At the same time, city officials have taken action to reduce rental housing, making shelter less affordable..

3.    Fairview Heights has allowed developers the power of eminent domain to take the homes of families so strip malls could be built. Now the homeless are returning to apply for jobs and try to find housing and assistance.

4.    The homeless who will go to St. Clair Square will be returning to St. Clair County, which daily sends its homeless to St. Louis for help

5.    A group of homeless advocates, Homeless Shelter Initiative, has been working more than a year and a half with the stated intent of starting a shelter. Advocates say it could be five more years before a shelter opens, claiming the endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint. Meanwhile, the homeless in St. Clair County will be exposed to the elements, causing what could be a sprint to graves. An example is Otha Bowman, 62, a homeless man in St. Clair County. The heat killed Bowman last week.