St. Louis city opens new center to battle homelessness

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – St. Louis city leaders are calling the opening of the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center a game-changer in the fight to end homelessness in the city.

"This will end chronic homelessness as we know it" said St. Patrick Center CEO, Laurie Phillips.  "It's going to be able to take our numbers from the 1,300 point in time count in St. Louis city down to maybe less than 100 in a very short period of time" she said.

The center opened on Monday on Biddle Street just north of downtown.  Phillips says it offers people finding themselves homeless or at high-risks a place to seek shelter and housing resources all in one place.

"It’s a collaborative effort that allows us to not only understand the needs of who they people who find themselves homeless are" she said.  "But associate them with the right housing opportunities and the right resources and then allow them to stay here overnight if they’re unaccompanied men".

Along with their daytime services, the Biddle Center will operate 98 overnight beds for men, in addition to providing a space for showers, laundry and a place for a meal.

"Not all homeless people are bad" said Paul May who considers himself homeless.  "We are trying to find a job, but like I say, it’s hard.  Easier said than done" he said.

The opening of the Biddle center comes during a testy time in the relationship between the city and the oldest privately run shelter- the New Life Evangelistic Center- located just blocks away.

"I think it's great that the city is offering more resources to help fight homelessness" said NELC Assistant Director, Rev. Ray Redlick.  "We want to work together with the city hand-in-hand in seeing that the homeless population is served properly" he added.