During a meeting at St. Louis City Hall on Nov. 1, 2023, Amelia talked about the unhoused and her concerns about how the homeless will stay warm this winter.
Hi, my name is Amelia. I use she-her pronouns. I’m a resident of the 9th Ward, and I am hear testifying in support of all the bills. I had a speech and then I threw it out the window because these presentations covered a lot of the data, but to what the last gentleman spoke to, these are human beings we’re talking about. These are people who were sleeping in front of the people’s house and then were booted and are now down the street because all we want to do is push this problem away and pretend we don’t see. That’s how we’re taught to treat this issue growing up, is just look away, don’t talk to them, don’t think about them, but those people exist.
Those people aren’t going anywhere, and as we’ve proven for years and years and years, we haven’t dealt with this issue. And that’s what we’re trying to do right now, right, in just small ways. And I know that there’s been a lot of fear-mongering around things like public urination and all of that, but first of all, where are they supposed to go to the bathroom, right, when no business will let them in, when there’s a basis for them to actually use the bathroom. And instead of giving in to that fear-mongering, you all could be leaders in your community, help humanize them, go to your neighbors and say, “Hey, we can take care of our people because they’re not going away unless they die, which they will continue to do if you do not take action.” Because it was 27 degrees this morning and it’s only November 1st, we have an entire day to get through. And there are people that will die. We need more shelter space, we need more housing, and we have not done anything about it, and now is the time to act.
Right now, our petition process, as we discussed, is clearly broken. We have a whole committee on cutting red tape, which several of you are on, for businesses and entrepreneurs. Why are we not cutting the red tape for meeting people’s basic needs, for meeting human rights? Why is that not a priority? We’re only allowing registered voters to have a say in this petition process right now. Do you know how much disenfranchisement exists in this country? There’s a lot of people who can’t even have a say in supporting their neighbors the way that this process currently works. So you all have a choice. The choice is action or the choice is letting people continue to live on the streets, letting their blood be on your hands. That’s your choice.
We can’t wait another year, we can’t wait another month, we can’t wait another week. We have to do something today, and I’ve seen volunteers move heaven and earth to make that happen, to run pop-up shelters to do street outreach, year after year after year. We do not have nearly the power that you all have. We do not have the $1.2 million in ARPA funding for intentional encampments that you all have to give out. So do something, or every death that comes, will be your responsibility.