ST. LOUIS — A group of residents and building managers in St. Louis’ historic Laclede’s Landing neighborhood released new details and surveillance photos of what they say are daily incidents of unruly and often unlawful behavior tied to nearby homeless tent encampments. 

Two homeless “tent villages” under an elevated portion of Interstate 44 in Downtown St. Louis were evicted, Monday, as protesters gathered at St. Louis City Hall demanding the evictions be stopped.    

A larger tent village at the riverfront entrance of the former President Casino in Laclede’s Landing remains.  Its eviction was also scheduled for Monday but postponed by the City of St. Louis.  

A spokesman released a statement saying, in part: 

For months, Department of Human Services (DHS) outreach staff have been working with current unhoused residents at the Riverfront encampment and connecting individuals to services. While the city has shelter beds available for those 15-20 current residents, DHS is looking to enhance non-congregate shelter bed options ahead of closure for those who want, need, and will accept shelter. The City of St. Louis will pause closing the Riverfront encampment until non-congregate options are secured.

According to tent residents and Laclede’s Landing property managers, the riverfront tent camp has been in place for more than a year. The Interstate 44 evictions were ordered by MODOT. A posted a notice from St. Louis District Engineer, Tom Blair, said the tents and their occupants created a hazard and violated state law.   

“Occupants of the encampments … must vacate” by May 2, the order said.   

A small group of people and tents remained under the Interstate, a block to the north, as of early Monday evening.  Only one of the known residents accepted assistance from the City of St. Louis in relocating to a homeless shelter, a city official said.  The rest likely moved to another camp.   

“That is not a healthy solution for anyone:  healthy or safe,” said Jan Sandweiss, who manages the building in Laclede’s Landing that houses the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant.  

She was among a group of Laclede’s Landing residents and building managers who shared surveillance photos and stories of recent incidents of unruly and unlawful behavior:  incidents of sex in public, illicit drug use, and property damage.  

All of the incidents were tied to the riverfront encampment, they said.   A building security guard said there was at least one incident every night he works, most had to do with illegal drug use.   

“There’s a guy on one end of the block,” said the guard who did not want his name used in this report.  “I’m thinking he’s playing with his watch.  There’s a guy and his daughter, no more than 6 years old, walking right past the guy.  (The first guy is) not playing with his watch.  He has two syringes in his arm.”  

“Busloads of people come down here,” said resident Pam Rose. “The last thing they want to see is some guy taking his clothes off, screaming at people throwing bricks. I have to constantly watch my dog about what he’s sniffing at on the street. It’s not just chicken bones on the street. There are needles. There are other things.”   

“The homeless can’t get food, shelter,” Sandweiss said. “They have no bathrooms. It’s not healthy for them. They need a new solution. We need a new solution.”

She’s been losing tenants because of the ongoing issues all happening adjacent to the Gateway Arch and historic Eads Bridge.     

“This historic ‘Landing’ area should be considered an extension of one of the greatest national parks in the United States and this is how we’re treating it now,” said resident, David O’Leary.  “It’s a shame.” 

At the same time, protesters gathered at St. Louis City Hall to stop the tent camp evictions, Monday.  They held signs saying, “Stop The Sweep,” “Homes not Handcuff,” and “Eviction is Violence.” 

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia of South St. Louis opposes tent village evictions.  She’s calling for more patience as solutions are found.  

“I also have a great deal of empathy for the developers and business owners and residents of Laclede’s Landing,” she said. “The folks who typically stay in encampments don’t want to move into shelter space for a wide variety of reasons. They have really restrictive rules, sometimes.  You have to be ‘in’ by certain times.  You can only smoke cigarettes when you’re told you can.  You’re not allowed to drink alcohol there.  We need to have many more beds in low-barrier, no-barrier shelters, providing people a lot easier way to move into shelter space.”

She also opposes a new bill from Alderman Tom Oldenburg of south St. Louis, that would ban tents on city-controlled property and public rights of way.   

The proposal is set for debate before the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee Wednesday at 10 a.m., accessible to the public online.