Page 1



SINCE 2002


POVERTY IN ST. LOUIS the pruitt-igoe myth (pg.22)



ISSUES * INSIGHT * IMPACT volume 12 issue 1 distributed by and for the homeless and disadvantaged

yeyo arts collective (pg. 25)



People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same.



CARDIAC ARREST occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs.

A HEART ATTACK occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Cardiac arrest is an “ELECTRICAL” problem.

A heart attack is a “CIRCULATION” problem.



Blocked Artery

Seconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

WHAT TO DO Cardiac arrest can be reversible in some victims if it's treated within a few minutes. First, call 9-1-1 and start CPR right away. Then, if an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available, use it as soon as possible. If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls 9-1-1 and finds an AED.

CARDIAC ARREST is a LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH. Nearly 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States

Fast action can save lives.

A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die.


Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may include intense discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea/vomiting. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The longer the person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.

The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men (shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain).


WHAT IS THE LINK? Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. But when cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Other conditions may also disrupt the heart’s rhythm and lead to cardiac arrest.

Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Every minute matters! It’s best to call EMS to get to the emergency room right away. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.

Learn more about CPR or to find a course, go to ©2013 American Heart Association. 1/13DS6554

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CALL JAY SWOBODA @ 314.241.7744 volume 12:1


whats up magazine

& The Homeless Empowerment Project Empowering St. Louis since 2002

Vendors Otis Fulton, Letitia Dixon, Kathy K., La Maar Williams, Laura Thomas, Al Spinks, Clifton Sims, Paul Jackson, Pete Butler, Kelvin Dawson, Anthony Adams, Diane Crudup, Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Noskov Program Director / Founder Jay Swoboda Contributors/Volunteers Michael Kuelker, Laura Marty, Sarah McCabe, Christy Cunningham-Saylor, Jeannette Reynolds, JoAnn Brookes, Steve Kielbasa, RJ Koscielniak, Annie Wentz, Ryan Albritton, Rebecca Clendenen, Kate Essig, Jahnna Harvey, Hilary Hitchcock, Kristen Weber, Rachel Brandt, Kate Ewing, Raju Mukhi & hopefully you! Development & Events Coordinator Amy Gonwa / Camille Dobynes Volunteer Coordinator Call (314) 241-7744 to find out how you can get involved! Printed By KK Stevens Publishing - Magazine Layout Bootstraps Design

The paper’s mission aims to alleviate miscommunication between communities by educating the public about housing and poverty issues, and by giving the homeless a voice in the public forum. Whats Up also informs the homeless of shelter and occupational assistance, and acts as a creative self-help opportunity for those individuals who wish to participate.

Advertising Sales For rates, media kits, and deadlines contact us: (314) 241-7744 or

All correspondence AND support can be sent to: Whats Up Magazine & The Homeless Empowerment Project 906 Olive St., Suite PH9 Saint Louis, Missouri 63101 For information call: (314) 241-7744 or Member of the North American Street Newspaper Association [ &] Whats Up Magazine is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Contact us to find out how you can support our efforts! Submissions: All articles should be sent to the attention of the

Homeless Speaker Series Contact the Homeless Empowerment Project @ 314-241-7744 for more information.

editors at the address above. For further submission info, visit our website or contact us. We may edit submissions for clarity or length. Whats Up needs writers, photographers, graphic designers, marketers, administrative assistants, editors, and grant writers. Thanks to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Bascom Foundation, The McPheeter Family, The Stern Family, Caleb & Lisa Goldkamp, Amos Harris, EHOC, Sadhu Vaswani Mission, City of St. Louis Dept. of Human Services, Biggs Family Foundation, Sam Hamacher, WU’s Dept. of Student Activities, Justine Petersen Housing, NASNA, INSP, BISS Magazine and all the homeless vendors for all the time and energy that they have shared. Articles that appear in Whats Up reflect the opinion and perspective of the author and not the editors of Whats Up. Articles should not be construed as attempts to aid or hinder any legislative body.

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Volume 12 Issue 1



[ contents ] 6 VENDOR PAGE: Find Out Who Is Selling Whats Up & Kudos To Keith Award Winner Otis Fulton! 7 EDITOR’S NOTE: Whats Does Justice Really Mean? 8 QUICK STREET NEWS: News Hits About Poverty & Homeless Around the World Thanks to the INSP Street News Service




¼ Page ½ Page Whole Page

$ 75.00 $ 150.00 $ 300.00

$255.00 $510.00 $1,020.00


10 WINTER OUTREACH: A Volunteer Organization That Works To Keep The Homeless Safe & Build Community 14 HISTORY OF POVERTY IN ST. LOUIS: An In-Depth Look at the History of Poverty and Homelessness in St. Louis 18 PROMOTE JUSTICE: Ty Christian Creates Fashion While Advocating for Justice Through a Anti-Bullying Organization 20 STREET RESOURCES: List of Services in Region Providing Support to the Poor and Persons Experiencing Homelessness 22 THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH: A Review of Documentary on the First Public Housing Projects in the United States

Keep in Touch!!!

24 PROJECT GYA: Whats Up Visits Mid-Town Art Collective Empowering the Community Through Art & Media

If you’ve got a comment or suggestion, we’d love to hear from you. Here’s how to contact us:

Whats Up Magazine 906 Olive St. Suite PH9 Saint Louis, Missouri 63101 Also, if you know any group or organization that may be interested in this magazine, contact us!

[ concept ] Whats Up Magazine serves as a community-based media source. Our content combines social awareness and entertainment in a way that encourages the population of St. Louis to be socially conscious. Whats Up is also a human service provider aiding the homeless and economically disadvantaged by offering transitional employment. The homeless and disadvantaged take part in sales, advertising, and production of this publication. Street vendors are given 10 free issues, and then pay 25 cents for additional copies. We are always looking for enthusiastic people dedicated to our causes of encouraging awareness and providing opportunities to the disadvantaged. volume 12:1


The Vendors of Whats Up Magazine





















for questions or concerns regarding vendors, please contact the office @ 314-241-7744 or

to Vendor WHERE YOUR 75 cents:18Directly cents: Printing Costs Services DOLLAR GOES... 5 cents:2Vendor cents: Administration


Vendor Rules for the Streets

Whats Up Magazine vendors are instructed to adhere to the following codes of conduct: * Prominently wear and present a vendor badge and permit while selling the magazine. * Sell the magazine for no more than its $1.00 cover price.

* Refrain from asking for donations without a magazine or with just one magazine. * Avoid obstructing public walkways or selling near any stadiums or Metro property. * Do not follow customers more than 10 feet from contact or approach people in vehicles. * Be clean and sober when selling the magazine * All checks must be made payable to the vendor if vendor is to get any part of the amount. 6 volume 12:1


[ editor’s corner]

what does justice really mean... I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about Richard Pryor. It made me remember an old joke of his. It went something like “I went to court today looking for justice, but found just us”. It made me seriously think about what it is, this thing called justice. We hear people demanding justice after a loved one was hurt, or worse. Is justice about punishment and revenge? Maybe for some, but I don’t think so. Justice can never be about hate, it can only come from a place where love lives. Is justice about being just? Absolutely. We already know that justice can be for sale in most countries in the world, including The United States. That means that those who have the money and power already have access to it. Justice is much harder to obtain for the poor, for minorities, for those living in substandard housing or the homeless. What can be done to ensure Justice for everyone? No matter the color, gender, national origin, sexual orientation. I think that Justice should be about equal rights, about being protected from bullying by the justice system, about feeding the hungry, making a safety net for those who fall through the cracks of the American Dream. Justice can mean many things to many people. I’d like to think that Justice is about extending the helping hand to those who cannot help themselves; it is about food and shelter for people who need it. It is about treating everyone as a human being; it is about equal rights. What is your idea of Justice?

Don’t give up - Make a difference! Vladimir Noskov, Editor-in-Chief

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower WHATS UP MAGAZINE QUICK NEWS BITES LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: CAREERS IN FILMMAKING FOR RECOVERING HOMELESS Ricky Staub and Anders Lindwall founded Neighborhood Film Company, a creative production company that shoots commercials, videos and films for clients like Nike, Notre Dame, Levi’s and Anthropologie, to offer second chances and new careers in filmmaking to people overcoming homelessness. The Film Company is committed to mentoring and employing adults in recovery through the process of filmmaking. Staub and Lindwall were so committed to this idea, that they quit jobs working on $200 million movies with people like Shyamalan and Sam Mercer. They moved to Philadelphia with nothing but the clothes on their backs. “I was doing my dream job,” Staub said. “But I knew in my heart something else was happening.”


A homeless Kansas City man’s decision to return a diamond engagement ring that had accidentally fallen into a cup has prompted a flood of donations from people impressed with his honesty. More than $180,000 has poured in for Billy Ray Harris, who found the diamond and platinum ring in a handful of change a woman gave him earlier this month. Harris’ decision to hold onto the ring until the woman, Sarah Darling, came looking for it the next day has generated worldwide praise and publicity. “It’s unreal,” said Darling’s husband, Bill Krejci, who gave her the ring when they got engaged about four years ago. “At first, it was just us and some friends who put money into it, and then it went national and snowballed from there.”

Neighborhood Film Company has grown as a for-profit filmmaking company, which helps support the nonprofit piece called Working Film Establishment, which gives the filmmaking company its reason for being. “We’re all driven by the context of, miracles can happen,” Staub said. From: (One Step Away /

Harris, who has received about 7,200 donations, could not be reached for comment. Krejci organized the fundraiser, affiliated with the organization GiveForward. Money will be collected for another 78 days before it is given to Harris, according to the GiveForward website, which says he will also receive financial and legal advice. GiveForward uses a small part of donations to cover costs such as processing credit card transactions. Harris, 55, has slept under bridges, said Krejci. He is a regular panhandler in Kansas City’s upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district but is living in a friend’s apartment this week. In a recent interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” Harris said he considered keeping the ring. “In my heart, I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “I’m no saint, but I’m no devil, either.” Darling had removed the ring the day she inadvertently gave it to Harris because it sometimes irritates her finger, Krejci said. She accidentally included it with some coins. “She was excited and surprised to get it back,” Krejci said. BY KEVIN MURPHY ( / Reuters)

8 volume 12:1







urban issues+ social awareness + entertainment + homeless resources

whats up MAGAZINE


DON’T SOLICIT DONATIONS ABOVE COVER PRICE urban issues+ social awareness + entertainment + homeless resources

$1.00 April 30 - May 9, 2013 / 150 Miles From St. Louis Through Jefferson City to Columbia To Educate and Highlight Homelessness in Mid-America and Missouri



FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO GET INVOLVED CONTACT: Matt Carter (314-945-2727) or Ola Martin (636-332-6105) HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS INTRODUCED BY MISSOURI SENATOR Senator Scott Sifton of Afton, Missouri introduced Senate Bill No. 428 in late February that Creates a Homeless Bill of Rights and prohibits discrimination based on housing status. The Homeless Bill of Rights is an attempt to validate in law that people regardless of their housing status have a right to exist in public space. More and more, private security, business improvement districts are stepping up policing programs with sit-lie, loitering, jaywalking, sleeping or park closures.





whats up MAGAZINE




Advocates for the homeless are fighting back. Until new policies and programs that address the causes of homelessness such as the lack of affordable housing, lagging incomes that have not kept pace with rising housing costs and the severe cuts in housing assistance programs for the poor - a bill of rights is one means of civil rights enforcement to stop our most downtrodden fellow humans from being treated like criminals. Rhode Island’s version of the Homeless Bill of Rights does not stop the criminalization, but it begins to eliminate the punitive laws facing those without housing options. Missouri could take a big step in protecting all persons regardless of their housing status and this bill needs your support. Learn more at: intro/SB428.pdf

More than one-quarter of South African men have raped at least once in their lives, and almost half have raped twice or more. This staggering statistic is according to research by South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC), which surveyed 1,738 men from all races and economic groups, as well as from both rural and urban areas. According to the study, men who rape start young, with 73 percent of those surveyed admitting to having committed their first rape before age 20. The MRC’s research, along with greater awareness of the country’s crisis since Anene Booysen’s brutal gang rape and murder, has led to calls for South Africa to shift focus to educating boys and men not to rape instead of teaching girls and women to avoid being raped. On Valentine’s Day, tens of thousands joined the One Billion Rising protest to speak out against rape worldwide. (The Big Issue South Africa)

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COLD NIGHTS WARM HEARTS words: whitney priebe, americorps st. louis volunteer

It’s almost certain that St. Louis Winter Outreach is a group like no other. Often described as a volunteer “dis-organization,” this group has accomplished amazing things during its existence. St. Louis Winter Outreach addresses the prevalent issue of homelessness head-on while fulfilling the immediate need to protect those without shelter during the life-threatening conditions of the stinging winter months. The down-to-earth approach that St. Louis Winter Outreach embodies feeds its success, and the candid nature of its volunteers makes the group unique. Despite the “disorganization,” this group has worked very hard to organize strategies and implement practical solutions to achieve the goal of keeping people who are homeless safe. Seven years ago, a man passed away in the middle of the night due to the unforgiving winter elements, sparking the birth of 10 volume 12:1

Citizen Effort Fills in Gaps Left By Lack of Emergency Shelter in St. Louis City

St. Louis Winter Outreach. Seven years later, eight shelters have been established in hopes of preventing similar deaths from tragically happening again. St. Louis Winter Outreach’s progress is a testament to humanity. Helping people who have nothing is the driving force behind the success of St. Louis Winter Outreach and its shelter partners, with the key emphasis on “people.” Regardless of one’s background, socialization or current life situation, when life is threatened, there is no gray area. St. Louis Winter Outreach emphasizes treating the homeless with dignity and respect without passing judgment — basic things that all people deserve. When St. Louis Winter Outreach first began, volunteers banded together and scoured the streets of St. Louis city to deliver blankets, winter clothing, supplies, transportation and support. After years of

these efforts, one problem became apparent. There was a clear lack of places to bring people, either due to the fact that they were ineligible to be admitted to a shelter or because there were not enough spaces inside to accommodate at the existing shelters. Three years ago, St. Louis Winter Outreach collaborated with AmeriCorps St. Louis, One Saint Louis at MCCGSL and St. Francis Xavier College Church to form independent shelters where homeless people could be taken during the harsh winter months. Two years ago, St. Louis Religious Society of Friends (Quaker Meeting), Saints Teresa and Bridget, and Christ Church Cathedral joined the efforts and opened their own shelters. Last year, Winco Windows and Calvary Missionary Baptist decided to offer their spaces to house the homeless as well. The continuous expansion of these small, hospitable sheltersis a true

reflection of how people can make things happen in their community with no call to action other than the absolute need to help other people. These shelter volunteers have devised partnerships with other community members and organizations to provide the homeless with a meal, a bed, and, in some cases, even a shower for the night. A lot goes into starting a shelter from scratch, and that is just what these people have done. There is no doubt that after going out with St. Louis Winter Outreach for a night, volunteers experience an overwhelming and newfound appreciation for the things they have. Things as simple as a drawer full of socks and a table to sit at for dinner are seen in a new light. Walls and doors suddenly take on new meaning. So, who are the people who make up this group? Here is a little information about some of the key players of St. Louis Winter Outreach:

serves as St. Louis Winter Outreach’s headquarters. Anyone who knows Mo knows that her outspoken spirit can lighten any mood. Mo didn’t think twice about offering up her place of business as the primary meeting and storage location for St. Louis Winter Outreach. Beneath the coffee grounds and phenomenal café fare are stockpiles of blankets, coats, gloves, scarves, snacks, water and anything else that generous donors might drop off. Mo is a genuine individual who truly cares about the well-being of others and about people getting what they need. Her enthusiasm and energy are second to none. Mo is an initiative taker and has contributed so much to St. Louis Winter Outreach’s mission. Laura Shields is a jack of all trades. Anything from inventorying an entire storage area to moderating meetings, she is up for it. She is always so willing to help wherever she is needed and is more than dependable. Laura is a sign language interpreter, demonstrating

Outreach is put into effect. Three services are activated at that time, which you can participate in: 1) Shuttle guests from our central pickup site (Centenary Church) to whatever shelter/s are available that night 2) Participate in outreach, which involves pairing up into groups, driving to various parts of St. Louis City to deliver supplies, blankets, clothing, etc. to homeless people and offering transportation to a shelter 3) Volunteer at a shelter during one of the following shifts: setting-up/greeting in the early evening, staying overnight, or cleaning up/breaking down in the morning St. Louis Winter Outreach represents the compassion and humanitarianism that we are called by those less fortunate to provide. Whether the assistance comes from a donation, a couple hours of time, or spreading the word, all assistance is significant and induces change. Prior to

St. Louis Winter Outreach represents the compassion and humanitarianism that we are called by those less fortunate to provide. Whether the assitance comes from a donation...or spreading the word, all assistance is significant and induces change.

Teka Childress, the embodiment of persistence and endearing modesty, would be described by everyone as the leader of this unruly bunch. In addition to serving the community through her career, she lends herself, on daily basis, to the ongoing efforts of St. Louis Winter Outreach. Her softspoken disposition is not to be confused with passivity. She has drawn people from all over to this much-needed cause, and she is a striking example of how people should treat others. Her approach stems from the simple philosophy that if we can help people in need, we should. It can safely be said that countless people admire her leadership, selflessness and dedication. Teka is the one who found that man seven years ago, and one of the main reasons people have somewhere to stay during the dangerous winter season. She is truly a remarkable person whose actions speak well to her character. Maureen “Mo” Costello is the owner of MoKaBe’s, Grand’s own hipster paradise, which also

that her affinity to help people goes back to her roots. Her ability to connect with strangers in one-on-one situations makes it easy for her to interact with the homeless. She is a compassionate person who is devoted to making things better for people. She is such a great support to new volunteers by making them feel welcome and informed. Laura plays a critical role through her consistent involvement and commitment to the group. These three soulful people, along with countless volunteers, donors, shelter administrators and service providers have all made something out of nothing. A crucial component of this system is the network of volunteers that is built and later drawn from. St. Louis Winter Outreach has created a successful model for building relationships within the community, protecting the lives of those most vulnerable, raising awareness of the issue of homelessness and making strides to eventually end homelessness. When the temperature is predicted to drop below 20 degrees, St. Louis Winter

participating in St. Louis Winter Outreach, a homeless person on the street may seem like a nuisance. However, after you experience the natural empathy that results from participating in St. Louis Winter Outreach, you may now see that same homeless person as someone’s child, parent or friend. If you are interested in shuttling, outreach or volunteering at a shelter, the group is always in need of volunteers. Please join our Yahoo Group by visiting http://groups. or email: stlwinteroutreach@yahoogroups. com.

whitney priebe is a volunteer with St. Louis Americorps based in Soulard.

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MAKING THE LEGAL CASE The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Dan Glazier regarding the 1985 court case Graham v. Schoemehl on the requirement of the City of St. Louis to provide certain services to the poor and homeless of our city. The right to shelter for St. Louis homeless is principally a statutory right. Chapter 205, Section 580 of the Missouri Code states that, “Poor persons shall be relieved, maintained and supported by the county of which they are inhabitants.” The word “county,” in this

words: dan glazier

local government has a duty to provide for the poor. A 1968 Attorney General’s opinion by Attorney General Norman Anderson states that, “we consider these laws to have been enacted in the interest of public welfare and to be regarded as humanitarian or grounded on a humane public policy. Accordingly they are to receive a liberal construction.” Elderly homeless persons have additional statutory rights to shelter. The Missouri Protective Services Act for Adults requires that

“This statute, and the accompanying statutes create a duty for local government to care for the poor. The duty has a long and vital history in Missouri. With some minor revisions, it has remained basically the same law today.” statute, would include St. Louis because the statute is general in character, and applies to the whole state. This statute, and the accompanying statutes under the heading Support of County Poor, create a duty for local government to care for the poor. The duty has a long and vital history in Missouri. The statute was introduced by Representative Thomas from Ste. Genevieve in 1814. It was enacted as law in 1815, when Missouri was still a territory. After Missouri achieved statehood, the statute was enacted as a state law in 1824. With some minor revisions, it has remained basically the same law today. Other provisions of the statutory scheme include a definition of who is poor, the local government’s authority to erect shelters on government land and a requirement that local government establish a fund for “the annual support of the poor.” These statutory enactments require that the City’s minimum responsibility for the care of the poor would be the provision of shelter to the homeless. St. Louis has an additional duty to provide for “the support, maintenance and care” of the poor and to maintain facilities for this purpose. Revenue bonds were issued by the City on at least one occasion (1932), to provide for the poor. Case law, most notably Jennings v. City of St. Louis and a number of Attorney General’s opinions support the requirement that the 12 volume 12:1

when a person sixty years of age or older is in substantial risk of physical harm, the Missouri Department of Social Services shall provide for “assistance in locating and receiving alternative living arrangements as necessary.” An elderly homeless person is certainly in risk of physical harm so as to trigger the statue’s requirement of housing assistance. Homeless persons in St. Louis do have a right to shelter. On behalf of our clients, we at Legal Services (of Eastern Missouri) are exploring all possible avenues to aid these persons in effectuating that right.


WWW.LSEM.ORG - CLICK ON DONATE NOW! dan glazier is the Executive Director & General Counsel of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) where he began working in 1981 as a Reginald Heber Smith (Reggie) Fellow in the Welfare Law Unit. In 1983, he joined the Housing Unit where he represented clients with housing issues in municipal, state, and federal courts as well as administrative proceedings. He then focused on issues relating to homelessness, and directed the Homeless Legal Project at LSEM from 1997 to 2005.

AN ADDRESS YOU CAN TRUST A n yo n e w h o w o rk s w i t h p e r s o n s experiencing homelessness knows about The Bridge in downtown St. Louis. This incredible resource operated by staff and community volunteers provides a sanctuary for persons experiencing homelessness and at risk in St. Louis. A warm and welcoming staff also offers meals and support for basic human needs to guide guests on a path to self-sufficiency. Housed in the historic Centenary United Methodist Church at 1610 Olive St., The Bridge is an independent nonprofit that is often mistaken for a program by its generous and supportive landlord. Through its doors on Pine Street, The Bridge is known for its service to more than 350 guests each weekday, to whom they serve more than 3,000 meals per week.

Louis; a Community Resource Room where guests can work on resumes and search for jobs; a personal care pantry providing items such as deodorant, mouthwash and razors; showers; food referral; telephones and Internet access; and acceptance of personal mail for guests who lack a permanent address.

“Each day, The Bridge accepts delivery of mail for over 1,200 people...”

to social support checks from the state of Missouri — as well as a lot of junk mail and collection letters. Although not all 1,200 recipients are actively homeless, the understanding is that guests who use the service must consider themselves at-risk in their current housing situation and unwilling to count on mail being delivered safely into their possession. The Bridge’s mail service is something that can be trusted. Trust isn’t something that many folks who use the services at 1610 Olive St. are used to having in people, employers, landlords, banks or elected officials. But what more than 1,200 persons experiencing homelessness can trust is an address — and that address belongs to The Bridge. Interested in learning more?

Beyond hot meals, coffee and shelter from the unpredictable elements of St. Louis, The Bridge has found a way to offer a vast, truly remarkable array of supportive services to acclimatize new sojourners to the streets of our city while providing extensive community resources and support to minimize the time individuals and families spend on the streets. Among those services are on-site health support offered in partnership with Grace Hill Health Centers; social work support offered by on-site staff and the city of St.

All of these services are crucial and hard to find in one place outside of The Bridge, but the mail service is unique to guests of this community resource. Each day, The Bridge accepts delivery of mail for more than 1,200 people at risk for or experiencing homelessness. Volunteers like Peter Matzner (who joined me as I researched this story) sort and hold personal mail for up to 60 days before returning to sender if the guest fails to collect. Guests are required to present a picture ID to collect their mail, which varies from personal correspondence


Donations of all toiletries and volunteer support to assist with resumes and job searches are very much needed. jay swoboda is the Founder & Director of Whats Up Magazine.

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( ) a in-depth look at the path of poverty in the river city of saint louis, missouri

words: jay swoboda The year was 1818, and the wide, muddy Mississippi turned the bend exactly as it does today, just past the confluence of the Missouri and Illinois rivers. Along the shores of this French river town that boasted a population of 2,300 were 40 to 50 roustabouts or longshoremen, ready and waiting to unload the boats arriving from points north and south. These men “along the river” lived in lean-to shanties and homes built of driftwood and red river clay. In these days, the underclass were the backbone of the shipping industry and fueled the growth of this burgeoning fur-trading village. The men of the river knew the unique whistle of each steamer and would assemble along the ramps upon hearing the echo along the wide shores, reverberating off the ancient Cahokian mounds. The boats came at all hours of the day and night, and these hardscrabble men were ready to quickly unload the supplies and gear demanded by the villagers of St. Louis. Hands full, they left the boat laden heavy and paused at the top of ramp where the head deckhand placed a coin in their mouths for payment – hence one possible origin of the phrase “living hand to mouth” was born. Fast-forward 194 years to 2012, and the quiet village of St. Louis has changed dramatically. This city on the banks of two major rivers grew to more than 800,000 residents in the 1950 census but began to collapse from the inside out. Poor urban planning and socioeconomic disparities precipitated the decline of this river city, resulting in a recent 2010 census count of just more than 319,000 residents and poverty rates well above the national average. Abject poverty in a modern American city usually seems to stand out, but throughout the history of St. Louis, the working poor — those with too much pride to stay in a shelter or seeking an 14 volume 12:1

escape from the system — went to the river in search of a place to call home and find community. These river communities looked a lot like the lean-to shanties of the early river days. But instead of logs and mud, the shelters were assembled from the waste and excess of an unsustainably growing industrial city. During the Great Depression, more than 5,000 homeless people settled on a stretch of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis, living in shacks of crate wood, sheet metal scraps and canvas. The biggest such community in St. Louis formed along the river from the Municipal Bridge south for more than a mile. In fact, the largest Hoovervilles in the U.S. in the 1930s could be found St. Louis and carried names like Happy Landing and Mary Town. Mail service and even city buses began to serve these growing camps. In an effort to displace the river camps, the city harbor manager’s office cleared shacks along the city’s 16-mile riverfront after floods, and press reports said the population of the river encampments had been reduced by some relief in the jobless rate. Federal agencies found housing for some of the residents, but even after this early example of “urban renewal” demolition, some people continued living in shacks along the river. The construction of Interstate 55 in the 1950s cut through the historic Soulard neighborhood just west of the largest river communities. This construction cleared out a majority of the remaining structures and cut the residents off from the soup kitchens in the churches of Soulard. The last of St. Louis’ Hoovervilles was a community of 47 families on city-owned land along the river at the foot of Madison Street, one mile north of downtown.

In March 1959, the city served eviction notices. The residents filed suit, challenging the city’s claim to the land. That August, after about half the families had moved out, city building inspectors arrived to condemn the shacks and begin forcing the people out. Clusters of squatter communities remained into the 1960s. In the spring of 2012, two growing river communities called Hopeville and Sparta along the north riverfront were home to more than 80 poor and displaced persons that had just survived winter. However, after some violent incidents in the camps and complaints from guests on the upper floors of the $300-per-night Four Seasons Hotel, St. Louis city officials decided to tear down the shelters and find housing for all who requested support. The

There were some very significant historic and economic changes that slowly eroded social support for the poor, overwhelming the churches and philanthropists who had been caring for those who lacked family support. The United States was still a very broken country after the Civil War, and de facto slavery still existed throughout much of the South. Children and grandchildren of former slaves had taken to farming and supporting larger farmers as low-wage workers. However, the development of the steam-powered tractor and the eventual industrialization of agriculture pushed these rural poor off their tenant farms and into growing urban centers where the urban white and immigrant poor already struggled with high

“During the Great Depression, more than 5,000 homeless settled on a stretch of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis, living in shacks of crate wood, scraps of sheet metal and canvas.” existence of these river camps was certainly a sign of the times, but social support for the poor, although limited, was not absent. The city of St. Louis Department of Health & Human Services does a commendable job of providing daytime facilities through partnerships with community organizations. However, the resources that exist are not rapidly moving people out of homelessness because the root causes of poverty are not being addressed. As a community, St. Louis has proven itself to be very generous, but barriers to jobs, housing and education, and unequal access to community resources will continue to fill the shelters of this city until we take ownership of the problem by pushing for more direct local dollars via the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to building adequate affordable housing solutions. Increased funding could build more shelters and permanent support housing through the Shelter Plus Care model, and are sorely needed. However, for those hardy souls who prefer selfsufficiency and would rather shelter themselves, options are limited. The quiet overnight downtown St. Louis business district allows for folks to sleep on steam grills and under building vents, and the choice to band together into camps along the north riverfront — very close to where the original longshoreman lived and Hoovervilles had stood just 75 years before — is a stark reminder that poverty has always been and continues to be with us. The fact is being poor in St. Louis today means to have an abundance of community resources at one’s disposal but few opportunities for self-sufficient employment options ,and very little quality affordable housing.

unemployment . It was a recipe for disaster. Beginning in the 1880s, the growing city of St. Louis took on the challenge of housing the influx of German, Italian, Polish and Irish immigrants through the construction of large private homes and small shotgun dwellings thanks to the existence of large clay mines in the city. The city grew quickly thanks to low-cost brick building materials and talented European craftsmanship. This was a huge period in history for St. Louis with ornate brick structures springing up all over a city that was very much counting on growth. The 1904 World’s Fair showcased the city to visitors from around the globe, and there was a lot of hope that St. Louis would continue to grow — and it did. Unfortunately, the Terminal Railroad Association dispute with the St. Louis Merchants Exchange around a tariff on coal trains crossing the Mississippi River resulted in several industries locating in Illinois rather than Missouri. The steelmaking town Happy Landing Hooverville - February,1938 (Post-Dispatch)

This wasn’t always the case. volume 12:1


“The lack of strong public schools is feeding the correctional system with individuals who can’t make a living on $7.35 an hour.” of Granite City, Ill., was founded primarily to avoid this tax. There were many contributing factors, including the rural location of the Missouri state capital that failed to advocate consistently for the urban St. Louis interests, and an overleveraged position on river commerce that made the transition from river to rail very painful and political. The wheels were set in motion for the value-added refinement of raw materials (and good paying jobs) to slowly move to Chicago and away from St. Louis. Even before Black Friday, jobs began to become harder and harder to find, and the stock market collapse of 1929 was especially hard on St. Louis, which had financed much of its growth on the book value of businesses and large corporations that were now worthless. Landlords began to evict jobless tenants and the river was a safe location for them to settle, with access to water and a central location for charities to provide food and clothing. With few public resources in this challenging time, the city allowed these settlements to grow through the 1930s and only began to aggressively shut them down after World War II. The

influx of veterans returning from the war could have been the shot in the arm the city needed. The GI Bill awarded each returning veteran with financial backing to purchase a home. Unfortunately, this postwar stimulus only allowed veterans to purchase new homes, and there just wasn’t vacant land to build on in St. Louis — so they all went west to the inner-ring suburbs. With increased legislative advocacy, guidelines could have been drafted to include purchase renovations. This could have shored up reinvestment in the urban brick homes that had been neglected during tough economic times and war time rationing. Instead, single-family homes started to go vacant, then whole blocks and eventually whole neighborhoods. St. Louis, Missouri’s rather painful fall from grace happened very quickly with a myriad of historical contributors. Changing family structures, the introduction of the automobile and marketing that championed the individual attainment of a white picket fence moved investment away from the city. Poor folks began to move from homelessness on the river into boardinghouses in historic neighborhoods, and their own homes into newly vacant ones.

Protesting Unemployed Workes on Tucker Boulevard - January,1930 (Post-Dispatch) 16 volume 12:1

Local historic districts and zoning codes that restricted the number of residents slowly but surely forced out the $5- and $10-per-night boarding and flophouses as residents reclaimed and renovated vacant historic structures. In the 1970s and 1980s, neighborhoods like Soulard, Lafayette Square and Benton Park were saved by these codes, but they also forced many privately operated boardinghouses out of business, pushing the poor and at-risk into downtown, where they joined the huge numbers of mentally ill recently released from the state’s psychiatric wards. The 1985 court case Graham vs. Schoemehl (see Page 16) led to the creation of the city’s Homeless Services Division. Community nonprofits and religious organizations along with City of St. Louis began to create a network of services to care for the city’s poor and homeless. This transition pushed the private sector out of providing for the region’s poor and placed the burden on public resources, neighborhood churches and community organizations. This old river city has come a long way, and it has a long way to go. The sources of homelessness in St. Louis have been diverse, and moving forward, we face many more challenges. The lack of strong public schools is feeding the correctional system with individuals who can’t make a living on $7.35 an hour and choose crime versus legal means of income. Too many youths have zero support once they age out of the foster care system, and individuals with decades of substance abuse are not easily supported or housed. The system we’ve created has become so complicated to navigate that nonprofits exist just to help the poor access the services. At this time, the city only has the resources to continue to put a Band-Aid on homelessness. The long-term solution will be getting the private sector back into providing housing, and mandating affordable housing levels in new developments that receive public support. St. Louis didn’t get here overnight, and it won’t be able to fix the problem quickly. However, advocates for the poor need support in their effort to work for justice by creating true equal opportunity for all. Advocates must continue to stand in the face of injustice that passes benefits to the wealthy and well-connected and away from the development of affordable housing, job programs and social support. The poor and homeless might always be with us, but most want an opportunity and are willing to work if given the chance.

needs to be evaluated. If we continue to value low interest rates and high stock prices more than human suffering, we must accept that we really are not working to end poverty, but to tolerate it. We are ALL at risk of falling into poverty, and we ALL need to work for justice. jay swoboda is the Founder & Director of Whats Up Magazine. The content of this article was inspired by Tom Burnham, a long-time advocate for the poor of St. Louis.





13 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63108. 314-361-7010 /

Authentic Italian Cuisine, House Grown and Locally Farmed Produce, ALL on the best patio in the Central West End!

Simply providing shelter from the unpredictable Midwestern weather and access to health and transitional services sets a very low bar, despite the fact that it is far from simple. As a global community, the system that creates poverty, namely capitalism, volume 12:1



PROMOTE JUSTICE Ty Christian is a part of brand-new project. If you don’t know him, he is the man who tirelessly worked for 10 years, raising necessary funds to build the first Dr. Martin Luther King Monument on the National Mall. I had the pleasure to talk with Ty Christian about his new project, A group of young, hip, out-of-the-box advertising and marketing execs decided to give back to the community. Sparked by the Trayvon Martin incident, their idea morphed into an anti-bullying campaign. Ty Christian resides in Orlando, and others are here in St. Louis. I asked Ty to explain what this new project was all about. “ is a brand of urban wear that takes a stand against bullying, no matter of race, creed, color, national origin, belief, or sexual orientation. Rich or poor, young or old, this is a movement of people who believe that everyone should live in the environment free from bullying and have the right to be sheltered in justice. The logo of this brand is a hoodie, a ribbon, and an American flag.” Ty grew up in the St. Louis suburbs and graduated from CBC High School. He was exposed to a suburban lifestyle that was filled with great friendships across color lines. He remembers his childhood not only being diverse but inclusive, which is the key to racial equality. After graduating from the University of MissouriColumbia, Ty spend 10 years working to raise 120 million dollars to build the memorial on the National Mall to honor a man of peace, a man of color — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It took nearly 25 years to build, but now it is a reality. “Without a doubt,” Ty 18 volume 12:1

words: vladimir noskov

said, “ it was an unbelievable ride. What a legacy to have for a poor little black boy from Rock Hill.” By the time this publication hits the streets of St. Louis, the website will be launched. You will be able to buy your urban wear products online, featuring their logo. A portion of the proceeds from products sold on the site will be going back right into the community to promote justice. Their goal is to be able to donate money to causes that are in line with In time, you will also be able to find the products with this brand throughout the world. Ty is partner in St. Louis-based startup He is also the former Chief Marketing Strategist for the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., and a managing partner for TRC Consulting Group, a global strategic consulting firm based in Orlando. He has been recognized by the University of Missouri as a distinguished alumnus, and inducted into the CBC Hall of Fame. It is good to see people creating fashion with a statement and an attitude. It is their hope that their brand will change the world in a small but a positive way. Bullying has to stop. This is what Urban Wear is all about. vladimir noskov is the editor of whats up magazine and a long time activist working on social issues. he is a lover a reggae and a proud citizen of st. louis.

GETTING ORGANIZED The Metropolitan Saint Louis Coalition for the Homeless, LLC (MCH) recently formed as a way for the homeless, previously homeless, activists, advocates and others from the metro St. Louis area to advocate for the civil rights of persons experiencing homelessness. The coalition will represent the regional population as an organizational member of the National Coalition for the Homeless. NCH’s mission and purpose are these: “To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected. We envision a world where everyone has a safe, decent, affordable and accessible home. We are committed to creating the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness. We take as our first principle of practice that people who are currently experiencing homelessness or have formerly experienced homelessness must be actively involved in all of our work. Our programs are centered around public education, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing, and are focused on the issues of housing justice, economic justice, health care justice, and civil rights.”

Whats Up Magazine is a member of The North American Street Newspaper Association. NASNA exists to support and build effective, self-sustaining street newspapers that promote power and opportunity for people living in poverty. NASNA works closely with the International Network of Street Newspapers, which represents street papers in other parts of the globe. As a sister organization to the INSP, NASNA works to build and promote the street newspaper movement in North America.The mission of the North American Street Newspaper Association is to support a street newspaper movement that creates and upholds journalistic and ethical standards while promoting self-help and empowerment among people living in poverty.

There is no single organization in the region that has as its mission to organize and educate homeless persons on their right to housing and basic human services. Metro STL Coalition for the Homeless will participate in National Coalition for the Homeless projects that deal with violence and hate crimes against the homeless, civil rights abuses, and a fair living wage for workers. MCH will offer local Continuums of Care speakers who are homeless or previously homeless to speak to their members about these issues in their local communities. MCH is a grassroots action organization that will educate and empower its members to speak up for themselves to the local media on issues like the criminalization of the homeless. Homeless and formerly homeless persons will host students and would-be advocates on the Homeless Challenge Project. This immersion experience allows persons to walk in the shoes of the homeless for a time and allow the world to see them as homeless, without money, a cell phone or the comforts of life inside. Learn more by searching Facebook for “Metro-STL-Coalition-for-the-Homeless”. volume 12:1







Almost Home, Inc. See Key for Description W 3200 Vincent St. Louis, MO 63104 314/771-4663 Almost Home is a transitional living home for homeless young women who are primarily teenage. The young women may or may not be pregnant, or may have one or two children. The program is nine months and may be extended. Clients must be homeless, drug- and alcohol-free, and willing to participate in structured, goal-oriented programs. They must be willing to utilize counseling; seeking to live a functional, independent life in appropriate or permanent housing; and willing to change unsatisfactory living patterns. Clients will attend classes in budgeting, parenting, and child development. Gateway 180 F W HRC 1000 N. 19th Street St. Louis, MO 63106 314/231-1515 Gateway 180 is a 90-day, 24-hour shelter for 135 single women, single women with dependent children, married couples with or without dependent children, and single fathers with dependent childeren. Services provided include basic shelter services, individual case management, life skills program, medical and psychological services, educational assistance, permanant and transitional housing placement, self-esteem, emergency assistance, tutoring, employment referrals and activities for homeless youth. The Bridge @ Centenary Methodist W F M S 1610 Olive Street St. Louis, MO 63103 314/421-3136 This downtown faith community reaches out to the downtown homeless with compassion and a whole list of community resources from 6:30 AM - 6 PM from Monday through Friday. Good Samaritan Center F 1120 S. 20th street, Suite 120 St. Louis, MO 63104 314/772-7720 The Good Samaritan Center offers stabilization and resettlement services for homeless families coming out of the shelter system. Services include transitional housing, case work training, support groups, life skills, follow-up, and referrals. Clients must be at least 18 years of age, have a family or children living with them, employable, and willing to work at their resettlement.

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Grace Hill Neighborhood Services: MORE Transitional Housing Program 3815 North 20th St. S W St. Louis, MO 63107 314/539-9659 Grace Hill provides transitional housing and emergency assistance (when funds are available) for single women and mothers. Clients must meet several criteria, including 1.) being homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless; 2.) having no more than two small children; 3.) having income or being eligible to receive income assistance; and 4.) being willing to participate in self-help activities (i.e., employment, training or GED classes). Haven of Grace W HRC 1225 Warren Street St. Louis, MO 63106 314/621-6507 Haven of Grace assists homeless, pregnant women ages 16-21 with shelter, goal-setting, education, employment, parenting, household management, and permanent residence. Hope House F 1611 Hodiamont Ave. St. Louis, MO 63112 314/382-3801 Hope House offers 50 transitional housing apartments for homeless families, comprehensive social services, family development, vocational and educational counseling, housing placement assistance, on-site living skills classes, and day care center. Clients must be prior St. Louis City residents and in a shelter for 15-30 days or referred by Housing Resource Center. After completing a comprehensive screening, the average stay is 12 months. Housing Resource Center S M W 800 N. Tucker Blvd St. Louis, MO 63101 Hotline for Services 314/802-5444 The Housing Resource Center provides centralized, comprehensive housing assistance for families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The focus is on prevention, but when prevention is not possible, emergency shelter placement and post-shelter placement is provided. Services include intake, assessment, and screening. Clients must be city or county residents (based on last permanent address). Hope Recovery Center S W M V 515 N. Jefferson St. Louis, MO 63103 314/652-4100 ext. 55472 Provides transitional housing programs through partnerships with four community providers. These sites can serve up to 146 veterans. HUD-VA supported housing programs and received an additional 25 permanent housing vouchers for a total of 120 available housing options for veterans. Olive Branch W F HRC 5029 Vernon Ave. St. Louis, MO 63113 314.367-7676 Olive Branch provides 24-hour maternity shelter care for homeless/pregnant adolescents. Mother and baby may stay for up to three months after birth. Our Lady’s Inn W HRC 4223 S. Compton St. Louis, MO 63111 Phone: (314)351-4590 The Inn is an emergency shelter for homeless pregnant women. Clients must be pregnant, 18 years old or older, and City or County residents. Peter & Paul Community Services, Inc. Emergency Shelter/Transitional Housing 711 Allen M St. Louis, MO 63104 HRC 314/621-5520 Peter & Paul Community Services assists homeless and near-homeless single men in several ways: a 50-bed year-round emergency shelter, a 20-bed year-round transitional program, meals, showers, lockers, medical referrals, living skills classes, and case management. Federal poverty guidelines apply and clients must be 18 years or older. Candidates for the transitional program must be sober and drug-free for a minimum of 30 days and have a willingness to continue treatment. St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources 2334 Olive Street St. Louis, MO 63103 (314) 421-0090





St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources (DD Resources) provides services to St. Louis City residents of all ages with the following developmental disabilities: autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and mental retardation. Individuals must have been diagnosed with their developmental disability before the age of 18 or meet the functional definition of a developmental disability as determined by the St. Louis Regional Office.


Salvation Army CIP: Transitional Housing Program F HRC 4100 Payton St. Louis, MO 63120 314-389-9302 CIP offers 30 transitional housing apartments for homeless families in recovery. The center also accept homeless families that are not in drug recovery program and willing to work in our program. Families must have been in a shelter for 30 days prior to a referral being made. Covenant House Missouri Y HRC 2727 North Kingshighway St. Louis, MO 63110 (314) 533-2241 Covenant House Missouri provides emergency and long-term (12-24 months) transitional housing to prepare single women and men ages 17 to 21 for independent living. Services include individual counseling, family therapy and group counseling. Clients are homeless, single men and women 16 to 21 years old who need residential care and skill training to live independently, and who are willing to comply with program activities and structure. Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, Inc. W 306 North Tucker St. Louis, MO 63101 314/588-8300 ROW effects positive change on behalf of homeless, abused and/or indigent women and families through programs and services that help individuals pursue economic self-sufficiency. Services include adult basic education and literacy, economic education, personal and life skills development, parenting education and support, domestic violence support and advocacy, and an early childhood program. Someone Cares Mission S 2718 N. 13th Street St. Louis, MO 63107 314-621-6703 Someone Cares Mission, a subsidiary of Christian Service Center, Inc., provides fresh and nutritious brown-bag lunches, personal hygiene products, and blankets for homeless and impoverished individuals and families five days a week. The Mission also distributes approximately 20,000 pounds of food daily to benefit bi-state regional homeless shelters and food pantries. St. Martha’s Hall W P. O. Box 4950 St. Louis, MO 63108 314/533-1313 St. Martha’s Hall is a confidential shelter for abused women and their children. Services include individual and group counseling, legal advocacy, information, referral, and follow up. Clients must be female victims of domestic violence, 18 years old and up. The Hall does not admit males older than 13 years of age. St. Patrick Partnership Center S 800 N. Tucker St. Louis, MO 63101 314/802-0700 The Partnership Center provides home living skills training and open market housing for individuals referred by agencies within the Homeless Services Network. Casework, employment training, child care, GED, and vocational referrals are available. The Center provides furniture and supplies to graduates of homeless and at-risk people referred by a member of the Homeless Network Board. St. Phillipine Emergency Shelter F 1015 Goodfellow Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63112 314/454-1012 St. Phillipine offers women in recovery from addictions and substance abuse City of St. Louis Homeless Services classes. St.Vincent de Paul Society S 4928 Christy, St. Louis, MO 63116 314/352-4000 St. Vincent de Paul assists with transportation for the homeless. Service needs to an out-of-town location would be referred to Mullanphy Travelers Aid, and local needs would be provided by the Society via bus and MetroLink passes when available. Serves families and individuals facing homelessness in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, and St. Charles.



Sunshine Mission M 1520 N. 13th St. St. Louis, MO 63106 314/231-8209 Sunshine Mission offers a men’s emergency shelter, men’s long term rehabilitation program, women’s emergency services, food pantry, and youth programming. The men’s shelter is first-come, first-served. The Salvation Army F 10740 Page St. Louis, MO 63132 314/423-7770 This Salvation Army program is a year-round 50-bed shelter for County families who are homeless. Life skills training, legal assistance, child care, GED, and assistance into permanent housing are available for homeless families and abused women and children. United Methodist Metro Ministry Shalom House W 1040 S. Taylor St. Louis, MO 63110 314/534-1010 Shalom House is a 90-day shelter, which provides medical and dental services through Grace Hill Neighborhood Services, mental health services through St. Louis Mental Health Center, and a drug/alcohol day program through BASIC, D.A.R.T., or C-STAR programs. Clients are females (predominately mentally ill) aged 18 and older only. Horizon Club S 202 N. 23rd Street St. Louis, MO 63103 (314) 436-1733 Horizon Club is a safe haven for individuals without homes. Horizon Club provides individuals without homes access to a laundry facility, showers, locker room for storage, and the transitional housing program. A limited amount of socks and underwear are also available.The Horizon Club is an initiative of the St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources (DD Resources). C.A.L.L.-4-Life, Inc. S 4144 Lindell, Suite 136 St. Louis, MO 63108 314/652-0003 C.A.L.L.-4-Life outreaches St. Louis City residents who are homeless and were in special education while in school, and/or have a developmental disability. Services include connection to benefits, healthcare, housing/shelter, and long-term case management. Women’s Safe House W P.O. Box 63010 St. Louis, MO 63163 314/772-4535 The Women’s Safe House is a shelter for battered women and their children. Services include legal advocacy, community speaking and education, housing referrals, support groups, children’s programs, and limited transportation. YWCA-Phyllis Wheatley W HRC 3820 West Pine Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108 314/533-9400 The facility provides housing for single women (up to two years). Personal and career development services include: Case Management Services, GED Certification, Educational and Vocational Assessment, Counseling, Job Readiness Training, Job Search and Referrals, Life Skills. Clients are single women, homeless or about to become homeless, 18 and older, and employed a minimum of 20 hours per week or with current written verification of income.















Dir. Chad Freidrichs 83 min.; 2011

reviewed by: michael kuelker On St. Louis’ near north side, shaped out of the old DeSoto Carr neighborhood and fueled by mid-century theories of modernism in politics and architecture, there came and went something called Pruitt-Igoe. The name itself has never failed to signify – as the mid20th century example above all others in America of high hopes and failed design and as a gathering place of all the maledictions of poverty. Michael Allen, a St. Louis architectural historian, calls it “the site of the death of public housing in the United States.” But before the death, Pruitt-Igoe had a birth and short life. In his riveting 2011 documentary, Chad Friedrichs goes beyond what he calls a thin “myth” of perdition and failure about the community. One instance, not cited in the film but easily found online, comes from a speech in St. Louis given May 3, 1991, by President George H.W. Bush: “Think of how Pruitt-Igoe suffocated this community, attracted crime and sheltered drugs and shattered hope.” And that’s all the President offered about Pruitt-Igoe in his housing policy speech, a one-sentence jab at our fear glands. Examples like this have replicated endlessly in the last 35 years, and so a film with new oral history and social and historical context is not only valuable but necessary. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a work of density and range which has earned every one of its many fine reviews, an indispensable reference for academic and political discourse and, more generally, for the public consciousness on subsidized housing in the United States. Erected in 1956 and demolished just 20 years later, Pruitt-Igoe was intended to be a model of modern housing for low income residents. For a short time, the vision was realized. In the early days the residences in the 33 buildings on 57 acres – “vertical neighborhoods for poor people” – provided uplift for the residents. 22 volume 12:1

Many of them were single mothers whose children are interviewed in the film. Ruby Russell was the first in her unit to be moved in – to the top floor, the 11th, which she describes as a “poor man’s penthouse.” Jacqueline Williams recalls the three-room shack where she and her 11 siblings grew up (and where her mother slept on a rollaway cot in the kitchen) and the much nicer amenities at Pruitt-Igoe, where everyone had a bed and her mother had her own room. Valerie Sills fondly reminisces about the shimmering lights of Christmastime across the complex. But by the 1960s the dream was dying. Pruitt-Igoe became a casualty not only of vandalism, violent crime and neglect but of a little-acknowledged failure of planning at the macro level. Its problems intractable, Pruitt-Igoe began to be dismantled in 1972, and the implosion of Building C-15 produced one of the era’s iconic images about public housing. By 1976, P-I was rubble, its inhabitants dispersed, relegated to fodder for academicians and policy makers and political pundits. “Little was said,” the film tells us about the standard narrative of Pruitt-Igoe, “about the laws that built and maintained it, the economy that deserted it, the segregation that stripped away opportunity, the radically changing city in which it stood.” Pruitt-Igoe, we learn, was financially doomed from the start. The 1949 Housing Act, the federal legislation which set the housing project in motion, didn’t have provisions for maintenance beyond monies collected in rent. The residents were low income in the first place. Compounding the problem were the unforeseen variables. As soon as the site opened and against projections, St. Louis began losing population. People who could move out to the suburbs or

“Why do people piss in elevators? Or throw bricks and bottles at fireman? There psychological issues about ghettos, power and powerlessness that the documentary only begins to address.” elsewhere in the emptying city did so, leaving the housing project to the poorest. The physical facilities were neglected and abused: broken windows were chronically left as-is; lights were vandalized even when fashioned into prison-quality lighting, covered with mesh or Plexiglas and recessed deep into the ceiling; elevators stank with urine. But there is another narrative, one just as dense, that Friedrichs unveils. “I remember a warm sense of family, a warm sense of community,” says Sylvester Brown, Jr, who lived there as a child from 1964-67. Brown renewed interest in the housing project when he was a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the 2000s. “PruittIgoe is a place that I remember of different smells, of pies and cookies and cakes and all these eclectic dishes …It was a place where we played hard, up and down these little breezeways and up and down the steps and running around.” The design of the housing, though, became endemic to the problems of the place. Pruitt-Igoe encompassed 25 blocks and at peak population had upwards of 12,000 residents in the 11-story buildings. There can’t be that many people in that space without services – public safety, a grocery, everything a village needs. There were too many people in a relatively small area; things couldn’t help but break down more often, though vandals undoubtedly worsened things. These visible realities overlapped with the pernicious way the welfare system operated. The system had punitive stipulations and, damagingly, offered assistance to single mothers but not if there were men at home. Without income-earning men consistently at home with their families, there was a vacuum out of which arose a violent hyper-masculine ethos. As Brown says, “The experiment had gone terribly awry.” Vacant, unmonitored buildings became havens for the worst elements. “You had drug dealers who would go and set up a whole empire in an empty building,” Brown recalls. “Criminal activity could fester.” Things turned especially incongruous when, amid the danger and chronic dilapidation, residents were expected to pay increases in rent. But passive they were not. In 1969, people organized, using the Pruitt-Igoe community center to conduct meetings that resulted in a rent strike and peaceable public demonstrations. The St. Louis Housing Authority acceded to some of the residents’ demands, but the housing project would soon be no more. Director Freidrichs offers a taut, engrossing, multi-layered and multi-vocal treatment, with sharp observations from the four former residents and the historians. But the documentary is only 83 minutes in length and nags me with questions:

Why wasn’t Pruitt-Igoe better maintained? We see from the film that the place was neglected, but we would do well with a flow chart of power and responsibility. Why weren’t there contingency plans in case the growth in population and job opportunities that the vision depended on didn’t materialize? How does Pruitt-Igoe compare to other housing projects? In the sixties, as conditions in Pruitt-Igoe worsened, where was Lyndon Johnson and his administration’s War on Poverty and commitments of a Great Society? Who represented the people of Pruitt-Igoe in the halls of officialdom? Why do people piss in elevators? Or throw bricks and bottles at firemen? There are psychological issues about ghettos, power and powerlessness that the documentary only begins to address. If you walk briskly from the Arch, you can get to the place where Pruitt-Igoe once stood in about 20 minutes, a fact which lays bare one of the brutal contradictions of city life: the tall burnished buildings of downtown St. Louis and what remains of Pruitt-Igoe – acres of ungoverned trees, mounds of trash and rubble and the near- complete wreckage of an idea about public housing. See and discuss.

Pruitt-Igoe: Extra, Extra The DVD release of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth comes with extras that deserve more than a passing glance, two segments in particular. One is an illuminating present-day site tour led by architectural historian Michael Allen. The camera follows Allen through snatches of the urban wilderness that Pruitt-Igoe has become and past two grade schools (one empty) and a neglected park. Another rare gem in the bonus material is a documentary short titled More Than One Thing, made in 1969 by Steve Carver, a master’s degree student at Washington University. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, in fact, incorporates some of Carver’s footage, which focused on the life of one adolescent resident at Pruitt-Igoe, William Townes. The bonus materials are rounded out by additional interviews and a director’s commentary. See Given the prevailing misconceptions about Pruitt-Igoe, it would have been edifying to have a bonus track which assesses public housing in the present. How is it working (and not)? Because if the last generation is any guide, 21st century America can be expected to produce greater disparities in wealth and thus a greater need for public housing. michael kuelker lives in the city of St. Louis and teaches English at St. Charles Community College. He co-hosts a reggae program, “Positive Vibrations,” on KDHX 88.1 FM on Saturday nights from 9-11 p.m., and he is the editor of Book of Memory: A Rastafari Testimony (CaribSound 2005), the spiritual memoir of Jamaican Rasta elder Prince Elijah Williams.

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words: sean madden, st. louis americorps

At YouthBuild, we are building more than homes. We are building lives,” says Mark Fuchs, coordinator at the Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship Program (CJAP) in Affton, Mo. He sees the program as more than just job-skills training. St. Louis YouthBuild works in partnership with the Department of Labor and AmeriCorps to end poverty, increase job skills and help students who have dropped out of high school achieve a GED, while simultaneously giving back to the community with service activities and quality, affordable housing renovations. Students who enroll in the St. Louis YouthBuild program can expect to receive educational classes during the first eight weeks of enrollment to put them on their way acquiring a GED. Once this training is complete, the students begin Level 2 and are enrolled in the pre-apprenticeship construction program at CJAP. While training at CJAP, the students earn an OSHA-10 certificate and learn precise measurement, construction math, training with hand tools and power tools, and blueprint reading among other necessary carpentry skills from journeymen carpenter instructors. Once the students complete their preliminary training at CJAP, they begin service on building new homes or renovating existing, dilapidated housing in local neighborhoods for families and elderly in need. Over the past 18 years, almost 500 young adults have graduated 24 volume 12:1

from St. Louis YouthBuild – a pre-apprenticeship program and alternative school for unemployed youths. In addition to earning more than 300 GEDs, the students constructed six new homes and substantially rehabilitated, repaired or weatherized more than 250 units of affordable housing in St. Louis City and County. The 2011 graduating class received an aggregate of $82,000 in scholarship awards. Of the graduates, 35 of 41 (86 percent) earned GEDs, and 42 of 45 (94 percent) of graduates were placed in employment or postsecondary education. Part of the six- to 12-month YouthBuild program requires students to complete more than 600 hours of community service. This part of the program affords students the opportunity to learn and build fundamental leadership skills.


sean madden is the Communications Director for St. Louis YouthBuild AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA).

YEYO ARTS COLLECTIVE words/pics: vladimir noskov

Exploring Independent Media Through Ar t Five African-American women, most of them single mothers, found it difficult to create art within the confines of the conventional art scene. They knew each other from teaching art at the same school, selling their art at the same exhibits, or just through the same art circles. Through these relationships and common interests, in 2010 they founded YEYO Arts Collective & GYA Community Gallery and Fine Craft Shop in midtown St. Louis, just a stone’s throw from the historic Scott Joplin House, where their exhibitions address the topics of women, youth or community, according to their mission statement.

project that he collaborated on with YEYO youth, which involved painting murals on his buildings directly across from Vashon High School.

Whats Up Magazine had an opportunity to talk with the founder and member of the YEYO Arts Collective, Dail Chambers, a well-known artist here in St. Louis with exhibits in other parts of the country.

The art exhibits at GYA’s gallery space are hip, fresh, and will absolutely catch one’s eye. The art made by members of the collective was presented in many media and is also available for sale. Chambers doesn’t like to talk about herself. She is a strong and smart woman with an abundance of charm. She is still a teacher, on the faculty at the school her 10-year-old daughter attends. Chambers is heavily involved in community life, promoting progressive ideas and the sense of humanity through her art. You can see her work all over St. Louis, and she encourages communityminded people to check out GYA and the YEYO Collective. Hopefully, you’ll get involved.

Chambers explained that the genesis of GYA and YEYO arts collective was an art movement not too far from where GYA is now. Black Artist Group (BAG) lasted from 1962 to 1972 and involved collectivizing artists in community art projects. YEYO arts collective drew on some energy and ideas from BAG and evolved into a movement different from all the rest. One of the programs created is called GirlsCreate. There are classes being taught to girls in different mediums of art, as well as meditation and yoga, independent media by youth and women, making recycled and earth-friendly art, building a positive self-image and expression through art, and promoting healthy living and gardening. The day we dropped in to take some photos of GYA, community artist Ra, was teaching basic self-defense techniques to the members of the collective and some of their children. Ra told me about a

Whats Up then joined Chambers to one of her networking meetings at JOBS with JUSTICE. Where Charlie Edelen of JWJ added, “I see YEYO Arts Collective empowering women and youth. They are empowering women of color.” Chambers insisted that GYA is all-inclusive. Her statement was backed up by a current exhibit at GYA by a Caucasian male artist.

YEYO Arts Collective operating GYA Community Gallery and Fine Craft Shop is located at 2700 Locust Ave St. Louis, MO 63103. Learn more:

vladimir noskov is the editor of whats up magazine and a long time activist working on social issues. he is a lover a reggae and a proud citizen of st. louis.

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Whats Up Volume 12.1  

Volume 12.1 kicks off our 12th year of publishing with stories about the history of poverty, winter outreach, Pruitt-Igoe, YEYO Arts Collect...

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