ST. LOUIS – A new Missouri law prohibits people from sleeping, camping or setting up shelter on state-owned land.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed H.B. 1606 last summer, which officially took effect New Year’s Day. According to the bill, “No person shall be permitted to use state-owned lands for unauthorized sleeping, camping, or the construction of long-term shelters.”
The bill presents challenges for Missouri’s homeless communities with state-owned land like public parks, bridges and overpasses off limits. Any person who violates the law would face a written warning upon first offense. After that, he or she could face a $750 fine or a Class C misdemeanor.
FOX 2 recently reached out to St. Louis City and County officials and authorities on their repsonse to the new law.
The St. Louis Mayor’s Office tells FOX 2…
“The City of St. Louis Department of Human Services remains dedicated to connecting unhoused residents with permanent housing and wraparound services that are supportive of their needs. We will continue to monitor how this new law impacts the City.”
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department tells FOX 2…
“While as a law enforcement agency we are expected to follow the law, we have been, and will continue to, work with our City partners to provide available social service alternatives for unhoused citizens in the City.”
The St. Louis County Police Department tells FOX 2…
“Regarding the new law and enforcement, our goal is to help the homeless find resources, not to arrest them. We do not anticipate any procedural changes but will address any enforcement issues if they arise. It is up to each individual municipality/jurisdiction regarding enforcement.
One provision in the same law banning sleeping and camping on state-owned land also prohibits cities and organizations from using state and federal grants to build permanent housing for the homeless. Instead, the money must be used to build temporary camps that would be monitored by police and social workers who would collect data on mental health and substance abuse.