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'We're trying to get people in from the cold': More warming shelters open across St. Louis area

The Family Haven warming center will open its doors on Monday. The shelter provides hot meals, laundry facilities and case management services.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Another 24-hour warming shelter will open its doors to the unhoused community in St. Louis County on Monday.

It comes at a time when temperatures will eventually drop, and the need gets greater.

The Family Haven warming center was supposed to open on Thursday but was delayed due to "unforeseen circumstances."

St. Louis County partners with The Salvation Army for the 24-hour center on Page Avenue.

5 On Your Side received a statement from The Salvation Army related to the delay, "The weather is changing and as we do each year, The Salvation Army is providing warming centers throughout the St. Louis area. All our daytime warming centers are opening according to schedule this season. Our 24-hour warming center at Family Haven, in partnership with St. Louis County has experienced an unforeseen delay. We will do our best to accommodate those with immediate housing needs and expect this 24-hour warming center to be fully operational shortly. Individuals experiencing homelessness should continue to call United Way 211 for immediate assistance."

The shelter provides hot meals, laundry facilities and case management services. 

While it's one of the many shelters opening its doors in the first week of December, Anthony D'Agostino, St. Patrick Center CEO, believes the city needs more.

"It's a system approach, really. If we don't fix the system, then all these nibbling around the edges will never get us to where we're trying to achieve," he said.

As the cold air creeps in outside, D'Agostino said the work ramps up inside at the St. Patrick Center. 

"We're trying to get people in from the cold. It's not as cold right now, but we just always hope and pray for a mild winter," he said.

No matter the temperatures though, D'Agostino said inflation has created a perfect storm, leaving more people on the streets.

"They're coming in with no resources, and they have a huge need. It's very expensive trying to deal with all that, it's tough," he said.

The St. Patrick Center recently opened its first independent living facility for the unhoused, McFarlane Place. 

According to D'Agostino, the goal is to put people in housing faster with fewer administrative delays.

"McFarlane Place came together kind of last minute. It was fantastic. We got 24 affordable housing units online in a very short period of time. We need hundreds more right, maybe even thousands more," he said.

The City of St. Louis launched its winter operations to help support the unhoused community on Thursday. 

This includes access to more than 600 shelter beds and 130 winter overflow beds that are open 24/7.

While every bed counts, D'Agostino said it's not just about more resources, but working together as a community.

"As everyone kind of knows we are a siloed community in a lot of ways, and we got to admit that and get past it and start rowing in the same direction, rather than rowing against each other in a lot of ways," he said.

Cities across the country have recently decreased homelessness by 20 to 60%, according to D'Agostino.

He wants St. Louis to join in that change.

"We need better data, we need better management, and I think all of those things are happening. We just want them to happen faster, and so we're trying to make that happen with more resources and bringing more people to the table," D'Agostino said.

The St. Patrick Center is hoping to open a safe haven for the community, as soon as possible.

The City of St. Louis' warming shelters will remain open through March 31. 

The Salvation Army Family Haven shelter is located at 10740 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132. It is opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no temperature restrictions. It will be open through March 12. 

You can contact The Salvation Army - Family Haven at 314-423-7770 for more information. 

Anyone needing shelter can contact United Way at 211. You can see a full list of warming centers in Missouri and Illinois here.   

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