Mayor Clarence Harmon

Coordinated Strategy to Prevent Homelessness

Description of Program

The Continuum of Care strategy developed by the City of St. Louis to alleviate homelessness is multi-layered and involves numerous not-for-profit organizations, faith communities, consumers, funding organizations and both city, state and federal governmental entities. Our strategy represents maximum participation of community-wide organizations and providers to meet the full spectrum of needs of the homeless as well as to identify gaps and priorities in the provision of services to homeless persons. Three organizational efforts form the cornerstone of our growing success at meeting the needs of the homeless in St. Louis. They are the Homeless Services Network Board (HSNB) . some 50 social and human service agencies which meet monthly coordinated by the City of St. Louis Department of Human Services/Homeless Services; the Housing Resource Center (HRC) our centralized intake, assessment, outreach and referral system for homeless and families and individuals at-risk of homelessness; and the Barnes/Jewish Hospital Behavioral Health Services Access to Community Care and Effective Supportive Services (ACCESS) Project--- a system integration model which seeks to reduce homelessness among people who have serious and persistent mental illnesses or who are dually diagnosed with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The HSNB is a unique, community-based process composed of 8 specific focus areas: Prevention and Intervention; Emergency Shelter; Veterans; Legislative; Multi-Cultural Issues; Mental Health (substance abuse and mental retardation/ developmental disabilities); Transitional Housing; and Children and Youth. HRC operates the 24-hour emergency shelter hotline and centralized point of intake, assessment, prevention and referral activities. This single telephone number can assist the homeless in accessing shelter, housing crisis information and/or intervention services. The collaboration among HSNB, HRC and ACCESS has resulted in a coordinated approach to the problems of homelessness in the City of St. Louis.

When and Why Created

The Homeless Service Division of the Department of Human Services was created in 1984 in direct response to litigation, which indicated the City of St. Louis was not adequately addressing the needs of the city. s growing homeless populations. Established in 1985, the HSNB received the prestigious Ford Foundation Innovations in Local Government Award-- one year after it came into existence. The HRC began in 1985, and the ACCESS project started in 1994.

Measures of Effectiveness

A formal strategic planning process conducted with ACCESS last year outlined action steps needed to accomplish identified goals. Those action steps include: increasing the availability of services, eliminating barriers, strengthening the continuum of care and effectively advocating for system changes and resources. The execution of an Executive Committee of the HSNB, made up of Focus Group Chairs will also assist with outcome measures.

Financing of Program

Financing is received from Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act Funds primarily and secondarily from City General Revenue Funds. The Homeless Services Division administers the Supportive Housing Grant, Federal Emergency Shelter Grant, Missouri Emergency Shelter Grant which is provided through the Missouri Department of Social Services/Family Services Division and the Homeless Challenge Grant which is Community Services Block Grant discretionary funds.

Linkage to City Government

Homeless Services is a division within the City of St. Louis Department of Human Services.

Major Lessons

Major obstacles lie in the accuracy of data collection relative to homelessness and thus, an important lesson learned lies in the coordination of organizations charged with this element of the continuum. Additionally, services seemed skew toward adult interventions rather than at family interventions, which include programming aimed at children and youth that face generational consequences of homelessness. Community and public education is another area important to keeping the issue of homelessness in the forefront. Sub-populations of homeless people, such as those with HIV/AIDS, adolescent males, chronic substance abusers and the elderly require specific strategies targeted to long-range goals which includes planning beyond immediate emergency shelter.

Contact Person: Sylvia J. Jackson, Program Manager Department of Human Services/Homeless Services 634 North Grand Suite 836 St. Louis, MO 63103 Telephone: (314) 658-1168  Fax: (314) 658-1149

Return to Previous Page.

Home Search

The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352
Copyright 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.