Gateways and St. Patrick open apartments for the homeless in St. Louis

More people in need of shelter will be able to find housing, with two apartment buildings for the homeless opening in North St. Louis. But hundreds more without reliable shelter will face dangerous conditions on the streets as the cold weather arrives.

Gateways welcomed its first resident this week to the 50-unit building at the new $40 million nonprofit campus in Jeff-Vander-Lou. A neighboring building includes space for hospitality services and resident programming. Gateways plans to construct a 39-unit building on the site early next year.

Nearby in the big city, St. Patrick’s Center opened the 24-unit McFarlane Place apartment building this week, which includes space for social workers to help residents.

Gateways’ new apartment building is its 10th in St. Louis. McFarlane Place marks St. Patrick’s Center’s first foray into cutting out the housing middleman by becoming a landlord for its clients.

“Whenever you work with a landlord, even the big ones, there will often be a 30 day delay. There will be this, there will be that. And 30 more days at the shelter or 30 more days in your car can really make a big difference,” said Amanda Laumeyer, senior director of philanthropy at the St. Patrick Center.

The facility is particularly helpful for people who are homeless, as landlords and rental managers are often hesitant to offer them apartments.

“One of the hurdles we run into all the time here is finding an owner who is going to work with our clients, who may have a lot of hurdles in their backgrounds,” said senior program manager Jonathan Blecher. He cited bad credit and simply not having a permanent address already as factors seen as red flags when looking for accommodation.

St. Patrick Place had tried for a few years to buy a property before finding this one, a spokesperson said. The nonprofit purchased the building with the help of $890,000 in U.S. federal bailout funds earmarked by the Missouri Legislature and donations from supporters.

Some other groups serving the homeless in St. Louis have done unsuccessful attempts to obtain funds from ARPA through the city government.

Gateways and St. Patrick’s Center each serve homeless people with specific additional needs. Gateway provides support to people living with HIV and their families. The St. Patrick Center will open its McFarlane Place development to veterans and those referred by area hospital and emergency room staff.

Even as advocates make new apartments available to homeless people, hundreds more continue to face dangerous conditions on the streets as colder temperatures set in.

“Fifty units is a drop in the ocean. There is a growing homelessness problem in St. Louis. And we’re proud to be able to deliver that, but we know Doorways and other service partners need to do so much more,” said Opal Jones, CEO of Gateways. “There are a lot of needs there. And when it’s cold, it goes from being a general, basic need to being deadly,” Jones said.

At least five people died on the streets of Saint-Louis during the winter of 2020-21, an investigation by St. Louis Public Radio and APM Reports found.

The new Gateways campus occupies three acres and moves its headquarters from the Central West End. It includes multimedia classrooms for computer literacy programs and other courses, as well as a demonstration kitchen for sessions on healthy cooking and nutrition. The organization plans to add a retail pharmacy and event space.

The campus also includes “Rumors of War”, a large-scale bronze sculpture by Kehinde Wiley.