ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- Plans to open a 24-hour homeless facility just north of downtown have stalled. Our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report the Biddle House Project on Biddle Street at Tucker Boulevard was set to open next month but a political dispute among the city's top leaders failed to approve the project for now.
The Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which consists of Mayor Slay, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, and Comptroller Darlene Green, met Wednesday to vote on approving a $360,000 contract for St. Patrick's Center to run the facility. The board already approved the $2.5 million build-out, and that work was still underway Thursday morning.
But Aldermanic President Lewis Reed says the mayor's office did not do enough to explain the project to nearby residents. Reed voted against the project.
The mayor voted for the contract, brushing off Reed's comments as a "not in my backyard" type sentiment, adding he must be a voice for the vulnerable in St. Louis.
Comptroller Darlene Green failed to break the tie, resulting in a deadlock.
Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's office, told FOX 2 this morning the E&A board could vote again as soon as Friday, adding their office is "confident the board will do the right thing."
President Reed's Chief of Staff Tom Shepard responded in a statement, "The 'right thing' would have been for the Mayor's office to allow for public engagement on a project like this. The Board of Aldermen is now in the process of doing that."
Shepard said Reed wants to wait for that process to play out, adding, "There's been more community involvement to determine stop sign placements than there was on this project. You can't just shut the community out of the process."
Reed's office says he has also spoken to County Executive Steve Stenger, and that the two meet "very soon" to plan collaborative approaches to homelessness.
Slay has touted Biddle House as the best financed, best staffed facility for homeless in the St. Louis region.