ST. LOUIS • About a dozen homeless people sleeping in tents were ordered to move Friday, amid some protest, and they immediately set up somewhere else.
Campers had been given notices from the city 11 days ago that they had to vacate the sidewalk in the 1100 block of North 13th Street by Thursday. The refuse department said it would discard any items left behind by 10 a.m. Friday.
So Friday’s wakeup call was expected, but still annoying to the sleeping homeless. Before sunrise, city workers showed up and ordered the people to wake up and leave.
“Get up, get up, time to go,” they told Joseph Vincent, 38. He had been sleeping in a tent for two weeks there. He grabbed his blankets and clothing and went outside, greeted by a brisk wind and temperatures in the 40s.
“They really picked an odd, messed-up time to make us get up and go,” Vincent said.
The Rev. Larry Rice, whose downtown shelter was closed by the city in April, showed up with helpers and loaded seven homeless men into one van and three homeless women into another van. They drove a few blocks to a new location, north of downtown. Rice said he was hoping it might be a while before the city caught on.
“A wicked thing they did this morning,” Rice said of city workers.
The people were living in a row of tents near Biddle Housing Opportunities Center, the city’s homeless shelter, which has been full at night.
At the new spot, the homeless men dragged bags of clothing and bedding to a sidewalk and began erecting their tents. Christopher Perry, 36, threaded the tent poles into the corners as if he’d done it many times before. He said he expected to be sleeping in it Friday night.
Two hours later, though, Perry and the other campers were on the move again, looking for a better spot to relocate.
Rice said an alderman, Samuel L. Moore, had told them about an alternative site.
“It’s cruel because there is nowhere to go,” said Shay King, 43, who has been camping near Biddle House in an area that hasn’t been cleared.
Irene Agustin, the city’s human services director, said there had been a lot of outreach in the area since the vacate orders were handed out Oct. 16.
She said some people had been placed in hotels, others in various shelters in the region.
“We offered all of them shelter options,” she said. “Some didn’t take it.”