ST. LOUIS – There is opposition Wednesday morning to an ‘Unhoused Bill of Rights’ proposal in St. Louis City.
Mayor Tishaura Jones and three aldermen are now voicing opposition to the current plan, citing various legal concerns, including conflicts with state law. The plan would decriminalize homelessness. It would create a pathway for safe camping areas and remove barriers to establishing homeless shelters.
According to FOX 2’s partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aldermen Anne Schweitzer,
Michael Browning, and Shameem Clark Hubbard said they couldn’t support proposed bills, making it easier to open homeless shelters across the city and harder to clear homeless encampments. They haven’t said what revisions would change their minds. Without their support, it’s not clear how proposals can get out of committee and to the full board.
A spokeperson for the mayor says Jones couldn’t support a bill mandating the establishment of city-run encampments for people who refuse shelter due to concerns about it conflicting with state law. Alderwoman Alisha Sonnier and Aldermanic President Megan Green are pushing the bills. They are intended to guide a more humane and effective policy for handling people living on the street and in tents around a city that has long struggled with a lack of shelter beds and the resulting encampments.
One bill would make it easier to open shelters in neighborhoods all over the city, in part by eliminating the requirement for shelters to gather signatures from a majority of their closest neighbors before starting up. Plans for new shelters would be considered by the Board of City Officials instead.
Another bill, dubbed the ‘Unhoused Bill of Rights,’ would put new restrictions on city officials when dealing with encampments like the one outside City Hall last month: officials couldn’t make someone leave a camp unless they could offer a shelter bed in return, and they would have to put up ‘safe camping areas’ with 24-hour security and access to showers, toilets, and social services for those who don’t want to go to shelters.
Officials will watch the continued increase of encampments, or they will have to find a way to allow more service providers to open their doors.