ST. LOUIS — On this Thanksgiving Day, some shelters for the unhoused will not be open while the City of St. Louis prepares its cold-weather operations launch for December. 

Services for the unhoused do exist. My Mother’s House offers clothes, meals, and resources in Soulard.  

“So right now, the services we provide are weekly outreach services that take place every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” explained Jane Kersch, Outreach Manager for St. Louis Americorps, which operates My Mother’s House. 

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That will change starting Thursday, December 1. Then, the city will launch its Inclement Weather Resource Activation. Through March 31, 2023, the city signed contracts with various providers to expand “continuous shelter availability, regardless of the forecasted temperature outside.” However, Kersch said the hours and circumstances at My Mother’s House will have limits. 

“Our shelter opens Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays when temperatures are 20 degrees or 25 degrees with precipitation.” 

She also says that will not start until the city’s launch, because that is when extra funding from the city and private donors kicks in. 

A recent cold snap in St. Louis drove overnight temperatures into the teens and 20s. That was before the city began cold-weather operations for the homeless. 

Some organizations volunteered their own time and facilities during that time. On Tuesday, November 15, our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article.

It reported that Nick Dunne, spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, said there were 220 walk-up beds available. 

“They are not walk-ups,” said Audra Youmans, of the Corps Team for St. Louis Winter Outreach. “You have to get a referral. A referral takes time and can only be obtained during business hours.” 

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She explained that she often calls the United Way 211 Helpline to help place homeless clients but is often unsuccessful. She said families are often required to separate to find shelter, and some cannot find shelter at all. 

The city’s Department of Human Services Director, Yusef Scoggin, sent an email response. 

He wrote: “Those experiencing homelessness will have access to additional emergency shelter and other critical services 24 hours a day, without requirement. Those who may be suspended from accessing a given shelter due to violence, etc. may be referred to other shelter options. The additional emergency shelter operations will be provided by several nonprofit partners, as will be announced next week.” 

In an interview with FOX 2 Scoggin said the city is bringing beds, in the near future. “We are working diligently to bring on beds very soon. We are supporting community partners that are also opening shelters.”  

Thanksgiving in the U.S. always lands on a Thursday in November. Given the launch of the city’s cold-weather operations in December and the day of the week, My Mother’s House will not be open on the holiday. 

“Unfortunately, we were not able to just because of the lack of the limited support that we do have,” Kersch said. “We really need to put that toward the time when we do activate.”