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St. Louis’ largest men’s shelter is under new management again

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Biddle House expecting a new operator

Biddle House resident Arron Simmons walks back to the men's homeless shelter after shopping at a convenience store on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. 

ST. LOUIS — A city-owned men’s homeless shelter that has struggled for years to find a stable operator is once again under new management.

Peter & Paul Community Services took over the city-owned Biddle House on 13th Street in the city’s Carr Square neighborhood on Monday, marking the third time the shelter has changed operators since it opened in 2016.

Peter & Paul, a homeless services nonprofit, is hoping to hire more caseworkers, add a substance abuse counselor and occupational therapist, and ramp back up after operating at less than 50% capacity due to COVID-19 and staffing shortages, said CEO Steve Campbell.

“We feel like we are best positioned to give good service at Biddle House,” he said.

Peter & Paul initially worked with St. Patrick Center when Biddle House opened in 2016 to house men and operate a public day center. But the organizations did not renew their contract in 2018, leaving the shelter in flux.

The city put out requests for proposals twice, eventually tapping Ohio-based Homefull to run the shelter for two years. Then, in 2020, local nonprofit City Hope STL took over, managing Biddle House for two years.

Last week, Peter & Paul announced it would take over operations again.

This time, the city put $1.5 million toward the cause in the first year, which will be paid for using city money and some federal grants, according to budget documents. City officials aren’t requiring Peter & Paul to operate a day shelter, which will help it provide stability to the men who stayed there overnight, Campbell said.

“We feel like the resources will be there to do a good job this time,” he said.

Many of the people who worked for City Hope will continue to work at Biddle House under new management, Campbell said, and they hoped to get more people hired soon.

He said the organization would tap into its experience running the Soulard men’s shelter, specialized housing or shelter programs for people with mental illness or HIV and other programs to help folks get back on their feet.

“There are many reasons people are homeless, and it takes a while to figure out what caused it and how we can help,” he said. “It’s always the goal to get people back into stable housing.”

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Katie Kull covers public safety for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She previously wrote about local government for the Springfield News-Leader. In her spare time, you can find her cooking, riding horses or spending time outdoors.

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