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City of St. Charles, and partners applying for ARPA dollars to fund ‘City of Refuge’ project to house the homeless

<i>KMOV</i><br/>The City of St. Charles is leading an effort with St. Charles
KMOV
KMOV
The City of St. Charles is leading an effort with St. Charles

By David Amelotti

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — The City of St. Charles is leading an effort with St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln counties to find a long-term fix for the region’s homeless population. This is a growing concern after an October 12th shooting, where two homeless people were fighting over a bicycle.

Scott Faverty sits with friends outside a gas station on North 3rd Street in St. Charles. He said he’s been living under a nearby bridge since July Fourth.

“I’ve got a college degree,” the 50-year-old said. “I have a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and I can’t find a job.”

Faverty said he wants help but he struggles to find a place to stay long enough, to get back on track.

“To get a job, get a paycheck, and get their own place,” Faverty said. “That would help out but no one wants to come out and find us.”

News 4 found a tent city in the woods, near the Lewis and Clark Boat House. About a quarter of a mile down the trail, several tents stand as a strong fire burns to keep a group of displaced people warm.

One man told us he’s lived in this spot for a year but prefers to be on his own.

“They are drinking, loitering, littering, causing problems, stealing,” Ward 1 Council member Christopher Kyle said near the encampment.

Kyle said a growing homeless population can present a safety problem, after a shooting that involved two unhoused people last week.

“As a father, as a dad, I don’t like it. I want my kids to be able to ride their bikes in this area, and be in the woods playing,” Kyle said.

Mayor Dan Borgmeyer wants $10 million in ARPA funding awarded to Missouri, to work with Atlanta-based agency City of Refuge. The goal is building a new facility to get the homeless off the street and back into society.

“If we have a center, I intend to make it at least 30% psychiatric because 41% of them are drug, alcohol, or some mental handicap,” Borgmeyer said. “Those are the people we need to help because they are the ones causing the problem.”

This is the result of three years of research on the part of the city’s homelessness task force, working with neighboring mayors and leaders in Warren and Lincoln counties.

“[Right now] we have 40 churches in our network and for the first time ever we have the Kiwanis, VFW, American Legion … all these civic organizations pledging their support but the legislators need to give us a pathway to a solution,” Borgmeyer said.

“No one is going to be forced, no one is going to get locked up,” Kyle said. “But the opportunities will arise and I think there are people willing and interested to get help and get on the right path.”

Dan Foust Jr. sits on the Community Council of St. Charles County, as well as Mayor Borgmeyer’s city task force on homelessness. He said City of Refuge’s model eliminates most barriers, especially extra traveling from agency to agency.

“They can get counseling services, job training services,” Foust Jr. said. “Help with any legal problems and gives them a real chance to get on their feet.”

Faverty said those resources could give him the second chance he needs.

“That’s what every homeless person wants,” Faverty said. “They want jobs, a roof over their head, they don’t want to be out in the street.”

As far as what’s next, Mayor Borgmeyer said it could take six months to a year to lock in the ARPA funding. If that money doesn’t come through, he will look into the private sector to fund this project.

Borgmeyer insists this project will not cost the taxpayer at all.

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