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Slay Calls for Regional Approach to Ending Homelessness


By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is upping his pledge to end homelessness in ten years by calling on the entire region to join the effort.

Slay says the city pays for and his home to most services, even though 40 percent of the homeless are in St. Louis County.

City Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff says the city spends more than $12 million each year on homeless servies, five times more than the County.

"What we're saying to do this the way we should, we need to have others step up to the plate," Siedhoff said. "It should be a shared responsibility since the population we serve consists of City residents, County residents."

Siedhoff adds under the current system City taxpayers end up paying to take care of the County's homeless.

Keil Opera House Implications

Slay adds a more regional approach is another reason why the Rev. Larry Rice should not try to convert the Abram Federal Building into a massive homeless shelter.

"You cannot concentrate in one, limited area services for homeless and the poor; it doesn't work," Slay said. "So it's important that we look for a regional solution and that we find other areas. I'm not just calling on other regional leaders, I'm calling on aldermen as well to find alternative sites for a homeless services facility."

Rev. Rice's effort also thwarts the Kiel Opera House restoration. If the city can't buy the Abram Building to make room for parking, developer Don Breckenridge says he won't restore the Kiel.

Slay's comments came while passing out $9 million in federal funding to various groups that help the homeless.