ST. LOUIS – This week, the issue of homelessness in St. Louis City was front and center as the spotlight was on a homeless encampment right under Mayor Tishaura Jones’ window at city hall.
Our You Paid For It crew spoke with some of the unhoused gathered at city hall, including a wife who is seven months pregnant, and another woman is without a home because no one would accept her service dog.
After our initial reporter, Mary Carter and her dog got a huge break.
“I got an apartment. A landlord reached out to me. He heard my story, he felt the sentiment to give me an apartment and give me a chance. And I haven’t let him down,” she said. “…It made me feel good. Made me feel like there’s worth out here there’s people with worth in their heart.”
But Carter still laments the plight of others who are still unhoused.
Those like William Clay and his wife, Erica. She’s seven months pregnant. The couple lives in tents at the encampment in front of city hall. They have three tents here. William has had to move out of the one they shared together as his wife moves further along in her pregnancy.
“It’s very tough. I’ve been having some problems lately with circulation and just cramping, and just starting to get to the point where I’m just on the depressed side,” Erica said.
She believes the city isn’t doing very much.
“I’m optimistic about everything. I wake up with a positive attitude every day, and I just hope that I hurry up and get back on track. It’s been too long,” she said.
Her husband is trying to keep the faith, too.
“A few months back, we were illegally evicted out of our home and ever since then, we’ve been going through this homeless situation. We’ve been getting no help,” William said. “I trust and believe in God that we’re going to pull out of this with or without their help. I’m just taking it every day, trying to stay positive.”
The mayor’s office said various city agencies have reached out to those encamped outside city hall to offer housing or other services.
When asked what the city is doing to help Erica Clay, a spokesperson responded, “the city’s department of human services has coordinated with a medical provider to connect the pregnant, unhoused woman with prenatal vitamins and other nutritional support as they identify housing that best suits her needs.”
Homeless advocate Rev. Larry Rice called on the unhoused to camp outside city hall. To make their presence known so that government officials won’t forget them.
“This is a great blight on the City of St. Louis, and it’s even worse in St. Louis County. There’s absolutely nothing in St Louis County,” he said. “And this is actually a regional problem. It shouldn’t just fall on the mayor’s doorstep, which it has because they’ve done something but need to do a lot more, but St. Louis County has got to take some responsibility.”
In the meantime, St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green is pushing for a homeless bill of rights.