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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Alderman John Collins Muhammed of the 21st Ward says he’s frustrated that the state isn’t doing enough to tackle the ongoing problem of homelessness, calling it an epidemic.

Muhammed sent an open letter to Governor Eric Greitens Thursday, asking the governor to take notice that there’s a sense of urgency, a genuine concern, and a plea for help.

“The reality is that people are struggling and people need real help,” Muhammad said. “The City of St. Louis can’t do it alone. Honestly, as a city we are doing our part. We could do more, but the state has to step up and take responsibility and say that ‘These are Missourians and we have to protect them, we have to help them.’ Governor Greitens has to respond and he has not responded to this crisis.”

Muhammed is one of several community leaders spearheading efforts to help anyone looking for shelter from the bitter cold that was recently gripping St. Louis. He along with several community members and pastors helped to bring in people in St. Peter’s AME Church that was providing cots, hot meals, and clothes.

Muhammed added, while that was a temporary fix to an immediate need, the problem where people still need a permanent home and resources to get their lives back on track, continues to exist.

“In the City of St. Louis, our department of human services is grossly underfunded,” he said. “Most of their funding comes from state and federal allocations, but it’s so grossly underfunded and we have to do a better job.”

In the letter, Muhammed stresses that homelessness is not exclusive to just St. Louis. He also addressed how the closing of the New Life Evangelistic Center has caused an even bigger problem.

“He (Greitens) is the governor and he has a responsibility of ensuring safety and economic prosperity for all of Missourians,” Muhammad said. “Be it here or Kansas City, or wherever homelessness may exist, I need the governor to open resources. I need the governor to cut the check.”

Muhammed says he’s not heard back from the governor’s office but is hopeful it’ll be a positive response.

“I need him to leave Jeff City, come to St. Louis, come to North City, and actually see what’s really going on and sit down with community leaders and come up with a real, comprehensive plan,” he said.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 reached out to the governor’s office for a comment regarding the letter but we have received a response, yet.

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