Brian Culton cleans his apartment daily to keep the dust and
clutter away, his dishes are washed and neatly stacked in cabinets, the
“I appreciate having my own place,” Culton said
recently, explaining that he sweeps and mops every day despite his
limited mobility. “There’s nothing like it.”
He never thought it would happen to him, but Culton lost his job and residence, ending up homeless in St. Louis.
64, worked steadily since being honorably discharged from the U.S.
Marine Corps in 1973. He worked at the former Chrysler plant in Fenton,
as a roofer, at the Doe Run Company plant and as a subcontractor in
Festus and finally at a real estate firm in Festus taking care of
properties. He lost that job when the owner died, and he was evicted
from his home, living for a time in a shed and then seeking shelter
anywhere he could find it.
Eventually, he found respite at the
Biddle Housing Opportunities Center emergency overnight men’s shelter, a
partnership at the time of the City of St. Louis; St. Patrick Center, a
Catholic Charities agency; and Peter & Paul Community Services. It
was St. Patrick Center’s intake, assessment and connections to housing
support services that helped Culton get back on his feet and stabilized
in housing. Assistance included his first six months of rent, furniture
and a settlement on debt owed to a utility company. He’s lived in his
apartment in south St. Louis more than a year and a half.
caseworker told him what steps to take, “and I did it,” Culton said. “I
wanted to help myself and be in a permanent place. I can never thank St.
Patrick Center enough. I got a place real quick. I feel blessed.”
Patrick Center and Peter & Paul staffed Biddle Housing
Opportunities Center as a daytime service center and overnight shelter
from its start in 2016 under a contract that ran through July 31. They
chose not to reapply for the contract. However, people such as Culton
who find themselves homeless or at risk still will be referred to St.
Patrick Center for assessment and connections to housing support. The
coordinated entry process is designed to remove barriers to housing as
the client’s first step. Job and skills training along with employment
placement sometimes are part of the support services. Also included is
case management, housing identification, rent and move-in assistance,
behavioral health services and more.
In addition to St. Louis City
and St. Louis County, the St. Patrick Center Supportive Services for
Veteran Families program operates in seven outlying counties
Patrick Center recently released a report showing that 6,600 men, woman
and families who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless were
served by its intake specialists after coming to the Biddle Center and
being assisted as part of a “Housing First” coordinated entry
collaboration between the city and the St. Louis City Continuum of Care.
Almost half of St. Patrick Center referrals were for shelter, 41
percent were for housing programs and six percent for other support
services such as case management, behavioral and physical health and
Fifty-eight percent of people who came to Biddle
Center didn’t pursue a full assessment for housing assistance after
their initial conversations with specialists. Some may have solved their
housing needs themselves; others may not have met eligibility
requirements or may not have been ready to take the next step, the St.
Patrick Center report stated. Of the 2,800 assessments to determine
barriers to housing, 10 percent needed minimal assistance to be
stabilized in housing; 60 percent were candidates for a rapid connection
to permanent housing and case management; 30 percent needed permanent
housing with longer-term, more intensive case management.
experience strengthened St. Patrick Center’s partnership with Peter
& Paul Community Services and brought a different level of
experience with the homeless and at-risk population, said Laurie
Phillips, CEO of St. Patrick Center. It filled a role that was needed in
the community, providing three meals a day, laundry, showers and more
for people who needed help, Phillips said.
St. Patrick Center
returns to its core mission, she explained, with less stress on its
resources, especially since the cost of the services being provided
exceeded the funding. Intake, assessment and connections to housing
support services that St. Patrick Center provided will continue and even
be strengthened in the future, she said. St. Patrick’s mission is to
help individuals and families build permanent, positive change in their
lives through safe and affordable housing, sound mental and physical
health, and employment and financial stability.
Homefull, an Ohio-based homeless services provider, takes over as operator of Biddle Housing Opportunities Center Oct. 1.
>> Two years of service
During the two years St. Patrick Center and Peter & Paul Community Services operated the Biddle emergency men’s shelter:
Nearly 74,000 emergency shelter beds were filled during regular weather
conditions. More than 2,500 extra beds were filled during extreme
weather. Seventy-one percent of the men stayed in the shelter fewer than
30 days. Almost half stayed fewer than seven days.
224,000 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were provided. The St. Louis
community donated 97 percent of all food served (restaurants, casserole
teams, companies, other agencies and individuals).
• Nearly 15,000 showers were provided.
• More than 9,000 loads of guest laundry were washed.
St. Patrick Center no longer is one of the operators of Biddle Housing
Opportunities Center, it continues to work collaboratively to provide
services to people who are homeless. It continues a homeless assistance
approach, Housing First, that prioritizes providing people experiencing
homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible and then
providing supportive services as needed.
For more information, visit www.stpatrickcenter.org.