The City of St. Louis announced this morning that the three homeless encampments on the riverfront will close on May 4. The tent city, known to residents as Hopeville, currently serves as home to about 30 people.
Mayor Francis Slay and Director of Human Services Bill Siedhoff reiterated that Hopeville served a purpose but that it could not be allowed to continue because of safety issues, citing fights and stabbings at the camp, as well as the murder of Adrian Henderson
. Slay says in an official statement on the closure that "The solution to homelessness is homes, not temporary encampments. We are committed to offering stable, decent housing to people living in the encampments."
But Hopeville stands as more than just a physical symptom of a larger sociological issue. The community that exists at the tent city has inspired at least two artists to delve into the human stories behind the blank term "homeless," revealing the lives of people who are more than just their lack of a permanent physical residence. Tim Lane's "Hopeville
" series for the Riverfront Times offered the perspective of an established artist looking in to this parallel city, while Robert Boettcher's photographs
were a window on both Hopeville and St. Louis as seen by someone who had lived in both at different times in his life.
Hopeville will disappear in May, but the reasons for its existence will not.