Biddle House changes its day-to-day operational plans

ST. LOUIS - The views outside of the Biddle House shelter is normally always the same. Dozens of homeless men trying to find a place to lay their heads and waiting for a bite to eat.

It’s that reality, Deputy Director of Human Services, Valerie Russell, says the city will be changing.

“The individuals that came in for those meals often just came in for those meals, ran in and out of the facility,” Russell said.

An Ohio-based company, Homefull, will be taking over management of the shelter.

Russell says starting August 1, non-residents of the Biddle House will have to find other places to eat as food and other services will only be available for current residents.

“It was determined by the COC and others that they needed to have some adjustment to go to a larger extent to help those individuals who are actually in the shelter,” the deputy director said.

The city provided a list of other locations where those left outside can grab a bite to eat during the day. All of which, Russell says, is more than ready to handle the increase in the amount of traffic.

However, Reverend Larry Rice tells me he’s not buying the city’s solution to the problem.

“Because they don’t see them like they used to, they’re scattered all over,” Rice said. “It’s like hitting a bubble of water with a hammer and they disperse it ending up in people’s backyard and in alleys.”

St. Louis city ordered the closing of the reverend’s homeless shelter in April of 2017 citing it for operating illegally and housing more people than allowed.

Rice says he’s ready and willing to reopen his homeless shelter as a day facility to help fight homelessness.

“We could open up immediately and make any repairs the city wants us to make,” he said. “We’re ready to make those repairs, we’ve done the architect plans, but we are in a community that does not want homeless people.”

For now, this new plan for Biddle House will have to be the blueprint as a new company moves in with a fresh outlook on how to decrease homelessness in St. Louis City.

Rice will be holding a press conference on Friday in front of city hall discussing his frustrations with lawsuits coming his way dealing with his shelter.

Biddle House, on the other hand, is operating business as usual.