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Volunteers set up pop-up homeless shelter in north St. Louis

"While our focus isn't specifically the homeless ... we just felt that that would be the right thing to do."

ST. LOUIS – When the temperature plummeted more than 40 degrees Thursday, volunteers quickly got to work. They set up a "pop-up" shelter for Friday and Saturday night at Mission: St. Louis. Normally, the building is used for helping people get jobs.

"While our focus isn't specifically the homeless ... we just felt that that would be the right thing to do," said Jason Watson, Director of Beyond Jobs for Mission: St. Louis.

They're not alone. Michelle Higgins is Co-Chair of St. Louis Action Council and Executive Director of Faith for Justice. She says so many organizations provided resources, like blankets and coats, it's hard to keep track.

"It doesn't matter if we get the names right," Higgins said. "What matters is that our un-housed neighbors have somewhere to sleep."

Higgins says the need for shelter grew even greater when the City forced the New Life Evangelistic Center to close. The City said the center operated without permits in recent years.

"Now, we have multiple pop-up, drop-in emergency shelters," Higgins said.

However, she says the pop-up shelters don't meet city requirements, either, because they're operating without a license. That doesn't stop Higgins or the many volunteers.

"Until I see these very particular commitments embodied in more than promises, until I see these particular commitments manifested in a building that can house my unhoused neighbors, I will set up shelters that are technically against civil codes and I will be here and I invite everyone to join me," Higgins said.

The pop-up shelter within Mission: St. Louis is located at 3108 N. Grand Blvd. It's open from 6 PM to 8 AM both Friday and Saturday. Volunteers are welcome, especially during the overnight hours. Volunteers may work in shifts such as midnight to 4 AM or 4 AM to 8 AM. For more information, contact faithforjusticestl@gmail.com.

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