ST. LOUIS – Temporary barriers remain outside St. Louis City Hall along Market Street and at Poelker Park, with signs saying the park is closed for restoration. This comes after city authorities cleared the area last week of a growing homeless encampment.

Meanwhile, some in the unhoused community have pitched their tents next door at the former St. Louis City Municipal Court building at 14th and Market.

“Those who are experiencing hardship and homelessness are our friends, and family, and neighbors and friends,” said Yussef Scoggins, CEO of Covenant House Missouri. “And not to think about people in the abstract as ‘those people’ or people who are not connected to us.”

Scoggins has spent the last 20 years working as an advocate for the unhoused. His Covenant House Missouri helps with education, counseling, and finding stable employment and secure housing for 16- to 24-year-olds.

On the eve of World Homeless Day, Scoggins is keenly aware of the issue facing St. Louis and many cities nationwide.

“It is a multifactorial situation, including education, health, economics, workforce, and all social pieces to the puzzle,” he said. “So, it’s being much more collaborative in our approaches and strategies. To address this is important. The recipe and solution for homelessness is not shelter; it’s permanent housing.”

Scoggins said there are an estimated 5,000 unhoused students in the St. Louis Public School system. He’s asking for empathy from anyone in St. Louis to have a better understanding and help raise funds for Covenant House at its upcoming executive Sleep Out event at Harris Stowe State University on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Braving the elements for others.

“It is an opportunity for those to give up their bed for one night to support both in funds and in solidarity with our young people,” he said. “To support them to show so that our young people have a place to rest their head that night.”