ST. LOUIS – A man fears his pregnant wife may give birth on the lawn of St. Louis City Hall. The couple lives there in a tent. The City of St. Louis has been allowing people to live there, as well as on city sidewalks and alleys.
A group of residents in south St. Louis took action on their own Tuesday.
It’s been four weeks since FOX 2 first told you about a makeshift shelter made from blankets and shopping carts in front of someone’s house on the sidewalk at Chippewa and Spring in south St. Louis.
The City of St. Louis has allowed a couple to stay there for two years. The shelter keeps growing in size and has now encroached about four feet into the street from the curb on Spring Avenue.
A similar shelter popped up Tuesday morning in an alley about five blocks away. It was gone within hours.
A woman staying in the alley shelter told FOX 2 that nearby residents ran her out.
The landlord of a neighboring multi-unit building said no one wants a repeat of the Spring and Chippewa situation.
“(That’s) the first thing that comes to mind,” said landlord Michael Golde, Golde Real Estate LLC. “It’s a total embarrassment that that’s been there as long as it has. The city should absolutely take action.”
Golde is also a member of the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission.
A spokesman for the City of St. Louis told FOX 2 that a team from the City’s Department of Human Services and the International Institute continued outreach to the Sudanese couple living in squalor on the sidewalk at Spring and Chippewa, but there was no plan to force them to move.
William Clay and his wife are now among a group of people living in tents just below the office window of Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis City Hall. Clay’s wife is seven months pregnant. He fears she might give birth in the tent.
The city has contracts with multiple shelters to provide 600 homeless beds, the spokesman said.
Plenty remain open, but the shelters typically do not allow men and women, even married couples, to stay together. Clay says that is discrimination.
“We’re here to make a statement,” he said. “We’re here to tell our story and get people to see what’s really going on in the city.”
They’ve posted signs outside their tents, calling attention to the policy that refuses to allow them to stay in the same shelter until they get back on their feet.
“We’re trying to get somewhere where we can all be family, I can go back to work, and we can start building a future,” Clay said.
The Department of Human Services makes multiple outreach attempts each week to encourage those in the tents to take advantage of all the resources available to them, the spokesman said.
There is currently no plan to force them to move, either.