St. Louis city working to find housing for residents of tent city

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – The City of St. Louis is cautioning homeless people living near the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge that they will have to move.

'In the end, the curtain has to come down. We don`t do tented encampments in the City of St. Louis,' said Eddie Roth, the city`s new Director of Human Services.

For several months, no one seemed to notice a handful of the homeless living near the Missouri approach the new bridge. But now that their campground has blossomed into a tent city, the City of St. Louis plans to tell the homeless living there they will have to leave.

'You have to have an end date and I think they key here is good communication and no surprises,' Roth said.

The city`s plan is to find those homeless campers transitional housing, which could eventually lead them into permanent housing.

That is what the city did in 2012 when it dismantled three homeless encampments along the north riverfront.

Chad Bergman, who says he was the first to make camp at the bridge location, tells FOX 2 there are 21 homeless people living in the tent city--- all of whom vote on whether to admit newcomers.

Bergman believes the city will be able to convince most of them to move into the transitional arrangements made by the city.

'I think anyone here would be happier with an apartment with a light switch versus a zipper on a tent.

But others, like John Swapshre, are skeptical.

'The city says one thing and then it does something else,' he said.

Roth says the city is moving slowly and deliberately.

'To show our good faith, we are not setting a timeline before we understand what has to be done to do a reasonable job for these folks,' Roth said, adding 'but we will have that together soon.'

Officials will have the chance to talk with the homeless about the situation on Wednesday, which is when the city will be conducting its annual homeless census, which is required each year to receive federal funds.

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