Frustrations in Lasalle Park after city of St. Louis turns rec center into temporary homeless shelter

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – When he's not at work or school, Rashaun Scott is typically at the Rec Center on 12th and Park in LaSalle Park. But for the south St. Louis teenager, his time on the court is about more than just a game.

"I know some kids be up here every day with me, getting up getting better, it makes them better and not stay out of trouble and not be in the streets, so they're basically taking that from us" he said.

It's why he's frustrated that city leaders have closed the center to the public and turned it into a 24/6 homeless shelter for women and children, after they shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center last week.

"They're shutting down the rec center thinking they're helping somebody else when you're hurting someone else's life" said Scott.  "I would think they should help us look at our point of view look at our side. I'm not saying don't help the homeless, but I'm saying look at us" he said.

State Senator Jamilah Nahsheed agrees.

"If you didn't have a strategy to be able to allow for those homeless people to be placed somewhere safe and allow children to have the recreational space that they need, then this is a failed transition" she said of the city's closure of the NLEC.

"We need to bring down those tax credits low income tax credits so we can begin to build homes specifically for the homeless population.  That's what I'm working on" she said.

In the meantime, 7th Ward Committeeman, Marty Murray, says while statewide help and permanent legislation will be great in the long run, he's working with local leaders on solutions that could give kids their recreational outlets back as soon as next week.

"We're looking at Monday- after school- we'll be able to open up the services for Kingdom House for 12th and Park" he said.

A statement from Eddie Roth, Director of Human Services with the city of St. Louis reads:

"We understand the hardship created by the temporary closing of a portion of the 12th and Park Rec Center to provide shelter to women who are homeless and had been staying at the New Life Evangelistic Center.

"We already have begun the process of moving women into our regular shelter system, and from there into housing.

"We expect to be out of the recreation center entirely not later than May 25, the last day of school. In the meantime, parts of the rec center remain open for public use, including the swimming pool, the boxing gymnasium, the outdoor basketball courts and the outdoor park and baseball field.

"We are grateful for the hospitality being extended to these women and for the patience of the community."