UPDATE March 21, 2023: A Joint Statement by STL Winter Outreach and Tent Mission STL “Most residents did not receive shelter. By our count, at least 28 residents slept outside the night they were displaced. At least 33 were outside within a week, now without their belongings. ZERO residents were housed.” Watch YouTube video of protesters blocking bulldozer which later destroy tents and personal property on the St. Louis riverfront March 10, 2023.
ST. LOUIS, MO: Mayor Tishaura Oneda Jones evicted a homeless community in the Laclede’s Landing neighborhood on the riverfront today in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. There were dozens of homeless people living in the encampment and most did not want to leave. Watch eviction day with interview on YouTube.
KB Doman, from Tent Mission STL, a supporter for the homeless was there and said, “They are saying that they are going to come in with bulldozers and clear out everybody’s things. The signs read the eviction was to officially start at noon, but they got here around 6:30AM this morning. Some folks cleared out yesterday. There were almost 40 people here a few days ago. I think the city provided shelter for around 15 people. People here have been asking for that all winter, so I am glad that that happened.”
Doman continued, “But now there are other folks here that are going to Illinois, for example, because there’s really no camps left that aren’t highly criminalized in St. Louis. A lot of folks are just trying to get more hidden, stay farther from the city which makes it harder to reach them for health services, harder to reach them for outreach. No one is being housed today; no one is moving into a house.”
“Mayor Jones, during her campaign, promised that there would be no sweeps happening under her administration,” KB Doman said, “and that she was going to work on decriminalizing houselessness, and getting people services, especially housing. Unfortunately we haven’t seen that. We have not seen a big change. It’s really unfortunate.”
KB Doman ended with, “I would love to say differently; I would love to not see this, but we’re surrounded by dump trucks right now. There’s a lot of cops here; I only saw a couple social workers. It doesn’t seem like a lot has changed.”
There have been several instances of tent cities or homeless encampments in St. Louis, Missouri over the years.
One of the most notable examples was the tent city that emerged in the summer of 2020 in downtown St. Louis near the intersection of Market Street and Tucker Boulevard. The encampment was established by people experiencing homelessness who were seeking a safe place to sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tent city grew rapidly, and at its peak, it was estimated to house around 50 people. However, the city eventually began to crack down on the encampment, citing health and safety concerns. The camp was dismantled in November 2020, and many of its residents were moved to temporary housing provided by the city.
There have also been other instances of tent cities in St. Louis, including a large encampment that emerged in Forest Park in 2019. Like the Market Street tent city, this encampment was eventually dismantled by city officials.