ST. LOUIS — South St. Louis neighbors are frustrated with the removal efforts of a growing homeless community along River Des Peres.
Neighbors said at least one person has been camped along the banks of the river for months. Now, the group has grown into multiple groups along the river near the intersection of River Des Peres Boulevard and Gravois Avenue.
On Tuesday, a 5 on Your Side crew observed St. Louis Metro Police and city officials make three visits to the groups of tents.
“I look forward to a swift resolution that finds the balance between concerns of the neighborhood and welfare of the people,” 12th Ward Alderman Bill Stephens said.
Stephens said he’s been working with the city to find a humane solution to the situation.
City crews are working to find more permanent housing for the groups of homeless along the riverbanks.
Nearby Boulevard Heights neighbors said they are also concerned about the well-being of these people. On several occasions, neighbors said they’ve approached people in this community to help them get back on their feet. Long-time south city resident Roger Murphy said if these groups don’t want help, they need to be better neighbors.
“We are understanding of their plight,” Murphy said. “But if they don’t want help, we don’t want them here anymore. If you want to live outside of society, we don’t want you here if you aren’t going to follow our societal rules.”
He and neighbors on the Boulevard Heights Neighborhood Association said the trash, increase in petty crime and unsightly tents are a problem.
Neighborhood association leadership said they receive multiple messages a day about the growing community of homeless. Neighbors said they get the “runaround” because several entities own the land being occupied by these homeless camps. Neighbors said they want leaders to resolve this issue soon.
Not all neighbors want the community removed. A non-profit, Food For the Streets, regularly feeds, clothes and supplies folks in the community. Their goal is to make sure every member of the community is cared for.