ST. LOUIS – Shelters in St. Louis will have 130 beds available starting on Thursday, Dec. 1 for unhoused people in need of help during the winter months.

In the St. Louis area, shelters are getting ready for a large number of homeless people who will need warm beds this winter.

“There’s more of a feeling of desperation,” said Ray Redlich, vice president, and outreach director for New Life Evangelistic Center. “They’re asking for blankets, sleeping bags, tents, ways that they can survive out there.”

Redlich and his team are on the ground every day, assisting people who are battling the elements, such as Dennis, who has been living in an abandoned building downtown for the last four years.

“You just pile up blankets and crawl all the way under them, head under, and hope for the best,” Dennis said.

He is one of many people who are unhoused and bracing for the cold.

Even though the city said it is trying to help as many people as possible, for many living on the street, advocacy groups are the only way to get help. It is a lifeline for them during these colder months because, for many, they cannot access the shelters even if the capacity increases.

Unfortunately, Dennis said that without a phone, he cannot connect to resources to find shelter or more permanent housing.

He said the winter is when he deals with a lot of hardships.

“Frostbite to varying levels, to black foot, to rashes on the skin,” Dennis said.

“Approximately nine percent of the folks that are unhoused in the city of St. Louis are actually unsheltered,” said Yusef Scoggin, director for the Department of Human Services. “And that accounts for a little more than 100 people, and during the winter months, that number ticks up.”

From Dec. 1 to March 31, St. Louis City and county officials will increase resources back to pre-pandemic levels.

Inside the city limits, there will be 130 more beds in shelters that are open 24 hours a day and have additional case management on-site. It was put on hold over the last few years with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

“That can then lead people into permanent housing and be supported through that process permanently, and so we look forward to this year,” Scoggin said. “Doing things different, pivoting where we need to.”

The city will also open another shelter in the coming weeks, adding another 50 beds.

Dennis hopes to grab an extended hand of help to survive this winter.

“People are dying out here, and it’s very disheartening,” he said.

Shelter locations in St. Louis can be found by dialing 211.