ST. LOUIS – After the City of St. Louis closed the riverfront homeless camp, many had to look elsewhere for shelter; now, new camps are cropping up, and not far.

“We call this here the sandpit, the sandpit is a peaceful place, a humble place,” said Nathan Franklin, an unhoused person. 

Just off the river in downtown St. Louis, remnants of a community now displaced still remain.

“They’re pushing housing and cots, and shelters for us now, but when people are freezing to death, the city doesn’t care,” said Tasha Thacker, an unhoused person. 

The city has found space for dozens of people from the riverfront and Interstate 44/Hampton encampments, and said it will continue to offer help to those who need it.

However, some feel their only choice is to stay with what they know, despite the city’s move on Friday to move the homeless once again.

“It makes some people feel down, unwanted, helpless,” Franklin said.

The riverfront encampment at the pavilion has been a longtime refuge for many of the homeless in St. Louis. Now that it’s been decommissioned, many of them have felt they have new options and moved up north, where they face a whole host of new problems.

“We’ve tried multiple times to get this cleaned up and get help and stuff,” Thacker said. “Every time we try, the city takes things away; we had porta potties, they took it away; we had a dumpster finally, and they only took it twice over the year, so we’re forced to live like this. It’s like you’re intentionally trying to block us off every time we try to get help.”

About a dozen people live at the riverfront encampment; some have lived there for a while, but many have now made the sandpit their new home, for now.

“Please leave us in peace, we just want to be in peace, we’re not harming you, we’re not harming nobody,” Franklin said.

A spokesperson for the city responded to these claims in a statement:

The City of St. Louis Department of Human Services, in partnership with the licensed clinical social workers from Behavioral Health Response, continue to do outreach to unhoused neighbors at the riverfront and throughout the city. We remain committed to meeting them where they are in order to build trust and ensure they know there are more resources available than ever before to set them on a path to permanent housing if they choose to accept them. The City has already successfully secured space for dozens of people from the Riverfront and I-44/Hampton encampments, and will continue to offer additional resources to those who need them.

“They just act like we’re nobody, we’re human too,” Thacker said.