St. Louis to get 2 federal grants to help battle homelessness

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - A major announcement is coming Tuesday in Saint Louis city's fight against homelessness. Two federal grants promised last spring will become available to provide rapid re-housing assistance and permanent supportive housing programs. One grant will serve those with modest needs like overdue utility bills or back rent. The other is designed to help the chronically homeless many of whom have behavioral health issues.

Local agencies serving the homeless plan to also launch a coordinated approach to gathering information case workers need to help homeless clients.

In 2005 the city announced a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. The numbers have been reduced but the problem is not yet solved. Laurie Phillips, CEO of Saint Patrick Center, said Monday the necessary resources had not been available. However, she is now hopeful these new grants will make a substantial difference.

Saint Patrick Center and it's agency partner Peter and Paul Community Services have operated Saint Louis City's new shelter since late August. Phillips said since that time "we have been able to divert or prevent homelessness for 74 people at a cost of $312 per person. That's a one-time cost."

The Biddle House is now the daytime intake center for homeless men and women. At night, it houses just under 100 homeless men. There is no limit to the number of days the men can use the shelter unlike some other facilities. Phillips said the requirement is that they must be actively involved in seeking permanent housing and stability in their lives.

Phillips expects millions of dollars in healthcare, judicial and law enforcement expenditures will be saved if the homeless problem can be reduced.