Pastor Michael Robinson, Destiny Family Church, said that the temporary shelter located at Bridge of Hope St. Louis on Cottage Avenue has helped with housing nearly 300 people seeking to escape from the cold nights.
“We want to continue to allow them to have the dignity that is associated with life as a citizen,” Robinson said. “We have working poor people, we have people that are leaving here at 5 in the morning to go and work but they were simply in transition.”
But after a week, all of the funds—part of which were from a large donation—are so low that he’s struggling to even keep the heat on.
“We need help to make sure that our utilities are paid, the gas, lights, it’s a cost; we are a small ministry,” he said.
Robinson said that ever since New Life Evangelistic Center shut down, some of the city operated shelters tend to over flow.
“That’s 250 beds that are going to be lacking in the city,” he said. “So it was our duty to open our doors and make sure that no one died.”
Fox 2/KPLR 11 inquired with City of St. Louis to ask if it was aware that shelters such as Destiny Family Church were struggling to stay open, even though those entities don’t rely on any government funding.
We received our answer during a taped interview with the pastor.
“As far as giving money directly to a private organization, I don’t believe that’s how it works,” said city spokesman Koran Addo, who later connected us with Irene Agustin, the director of human services.
“They’ve been very helpful,” Agustin said about temporary shelters, including Destiny. “l mean, anyone willing to pitch in and help us is definitely something that is to be commended, especially during these bitterly cold times. We have the capacity but that definitely gives us some wiggle room.”
But the pastor was not satisfied with that response.
“This is the thing that probably pushes my buttons and bothers me, when someone says that there is no funding model for that,” Robinson said. “Well I say, ‘That’s great, so create one.’”
Robinson said that even though the shelter is not fully operating, it will not turn anyone away.
Some other shelters which are operating 24-hours include The Biddle House Downtown, Apostles Church at 1421 Taylor Avenue and St. Peter AME Church at 4730 Margaretta Avenue.