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City to end downtown St. Louis homeless encampment

City to end downtown St. Louis homeless encampment

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ST. LOUIS — Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Wednesday that the city will remove an encampment of about 50 people who have been living in tents in downtown St. Louis for several weeks. 

The city Department of Health issued orders to end the illegal encampment in a park near Market and Chestnut streets downtown.

Krewson said in a daily briefing that about 50 homeless people and tents have made up the encampment and they have been observed gathering and not following social distancing rules issued by the city. The encampment is not allowed under city occupancy laws, but Krewson said the order comes from concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

"It is a pretty serious health threat to have these individuals mixing it up, not practicing social distancing," Krewson said. 

The tents will be vacated by 10 a.m. Friday and all occupants will be given the option to go into city shelters set up amid the virus around the former Little Sisters of the Poor at 3225 North Florissant Avenue and the Buder Recreation Center at 2900 Hickory Street.

The people in the encampment will also be offered medical screenings and referrals to providers, Krewson said. 

There have been previous efforts to break up two downtown tent encampments during the virus, including visits from city police officers, but people living in the tents have resisted being moved, according to reporting earlier this month by Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger

Some people living in the camp doubted the city's shelter accommodations and believed they were better off in the tents, according to the column. 

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