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Unhoused community outside of St. Vincent de Paul Church asked to move over safety concerns

The church said they wish they had the resources to house people, but they're doing their best to find the unhoused a different place to stay.

ST. LOUIS — A group of unhoused people camped outside of St. Vincent de Paul church is being asked to move after the area became unsafe after a violent incident.

The church provides many services for the unhoused community and will continue to do so.

Pamela and her fiancé have been living on the street for about a year.

“You have no other choice but to be strong,” Pamela said. 

Just recently they've been staying outside St. Vincent de Paul Church where they felt safe and had access to services until this weekend.

“We've been sleeping on the concrete in front of the church and there were some shootings right there by this church, and it wasn't very far from me,” Pamela said.

That shooting was unfortunately the breaking point and Celeste Mueller with St. Vincent de Paul said the plan they were hoping they had maybe a week or more to execute was shortened to only a few days.

“We developed a plan to help provide services, connect them with drug and alcohol rehab, mental health services, and housing services, and gradually get people where they could be safe and housed,” Mueller said.

Mueller said no one was safe in the area and they want to honor the dignity of the unhoused staying there.

Mueller said it's already been a challenge to find places for people to stay because there simply aren't enough.

She said they asked people to move on by Wednesday or accept the church’s assistance to find them a different place to stay.

Pamela says staying outside the church was never meant to be long term, only until they could find somewhere that would accept their housing voucher.

“That's been hard. Everybody's been saying they have no vacancy,” Pamela said.

Mueller says they were able to find Pamela and her fiancé a room at Little Sisters of the Poor for six months so they have a better chance at finding something more permanent.

“They've been very helpful. Very, very helpful to getting us here to this place. We couldn't have done it on our own,” Pamela said.

Mueller said their services will still remain the same providing meals, a food pantry, and connecting the unhoused to other services but they're just no longer allowed to camp on the property.

“They're part of the family. So that will not change,” Mueller said.

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