St. Louis expands cold weather shelters for homeless

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ST. LOUIS – The city of St. Louis announced they will have more help on hand for those on the streets this winter bearing the cold temperatures.

Shelters opened Wednesday night. During a press conference earlier in the day, city leaders laid out their cold-weather shelter and outreach plan.

The plan will offer, “Warm meals, a safe and welcoming place to take a shower, to sleep, and potentially lifesaving resources like warming buses and transportation,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said.

Each with their own story, wrapped as tightly as possible, people waited in line for hours to escape the bitter bite of the wind.

“It’s tough out here,” said William Parks Jr. as he waited to enter a shelter.

“I just have what I have on and wrap up in blankets. Just use blankets,” said one person who would not be making it to a shelter.

This year’s plan involves shelter activation earlier.  When temperatures fall below 32 degrees, there will be more warm beds available at partnering shelters.

Two of those are Biddle House and Gateway 180.

“This year our efforts were $17.2 million in local and federal funds,” Krewson said.

When those temperatures drop, there will be busses on 13th and Chestnut to take people to those activated shelters from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The city also plans to provide Metro passes free of charge to help with transportation.

“Many people have serious problems being out and not having a place to go.”

Beginning December 1, there will be continuous shelter without temperature restrictions.

Those bearing the cold each had a way to cope.

“I’m kind of athletic. I do push-ups to keep my body warm,” said Parks. “I try to be as warm as possible using blankets and trying to be comfortable as possible."

Now they hope the new resources are enough to offer them a space.

“I can’t hope for much but what they offer. I’m thanking God that they have a warm bed and safe place for me tonight,” Parks said.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the following resources:

The St. Louis Housing Hotline at 314-802-5444
The United Way at 211
The Biddle House’s Housing Opportunities Center at 314-612-1675

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