Just received an e-mail from Mayor Slay spokeswoman Kara Bowlin detailing the city's plan to evict dozens of homeless people from a makeshift encampment under Tucker Boulevard to make way for a $34 million construction project.
Aimee Levitt posted about the Hopeville conflict yesterday on Daily RFT, quoting an article in the Post-Dispatch that detailed the city's belief that outspoken advocate Reverend Larry Rice added fuel to the fire by telling people to move to the tent city even though he know the area needed to be evacuated in the coming weeks.
Bowlin's message reiterates those claims and states that Rice "encouraged homeless people from throughout the region to move into a tunnel at the site. (Most of the people living in the tunnel are not from the City.)"
When Human Services director Bill Siedhoff handed out eviction notices yesterday wearing a suit and tie, KMOX described an atmosphere of "palpable resentment." They also posted video of the scene:
According to Bowlin, the city is offering a variety of social services for Hopeville residents who go quietly but those who resist "will be arrested, undergo a background check for outstanding warrants, and booked on a trespassing citation."
Full text of the press release after the jump...
Protocol for Evacuating Tucker Tunnel Construction Site
The City of St. Louis today released the protocol for evacuating a construction site just north of Downtown. The City is rebuilding Tucker Blvd., a $34-million construction project funded with federal stimulus funds. Utility companies are already preparing the site for construction. In the next few weeks, actual work will begin.
Even though the City made it known months ago that the site would undergo heavy construction, Reverend Larry Rice and others have encouraged homeless people from throughout the region to move into a tunnel at the site. (Most of the people living in the tunnel are not from the City.)
For weeks both before and after Reverend Rice started encouraging people to camp at the site, the Department of Human Services warned people living in the tunnel that they would have to leave because the area is dangerous and because it will soon be a construction site. All have been offered services available to people who are homeless.
Here is this week's plan:
Heavy-duty storage bags and I.D. tags have been distributed as part of the City's "Bag and Tag" program to help people pack their belongings.
Signs warning against trespassing have been posted.
On Monday, Human Services again visited the tunnel to notify the people camping in or around the tunnel that that the site must be evacuated this week. People are being warned that they must leave by Friday, May 14th at 8:00am. Anyone still in or near the tunnel after the deadline will be trespassing.
Everyone living at the site is again being offered services through the City's Continuum of Care network.
Human Services is encouraging people who choose not to access homeless services to make other living arrangements immediately. They are being advised not to wait until the last day.
Those who are trespassing will be arrested, undergo a background check for outstanding warrants, and booked on a trespassing citation. Their personal belongings will be put in protective bags, tagged, and stored for retrieval.
The City will attempt to close the construction site with as little confrontation as possible to protect the safety of the homeless people, City workers and police officers.
After the site is closed, anyone not working on the construction project will be subject to arrest for trespassing.