At a blessing and dedication Nov. 16 of St. Patrick Center’s new McFarlane Place apartments, Msgr. Jack Schuler, pastor of St. Cronan Parish, prayed that this home would bring peace to all who live here.
“We dedicate this home to love and understanding,” he said. “May joys and sorrows be shared here; may each person who lives and visits here be appreciated. We dedicate this home to work, rest and play. … We dedicate the time and talent of those who live here to help build a world in which others know God’s provident love.”
McFarlane Place, a
24-unit apartment building in the Greater Ville neighborhood of north St. Louis, will house veterans and people referred by staff at area hospitals and emergency rooms.
St. Patrick Center purchased the building with $890,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds designated by the Missouri legislature, along with contributions from the Berges Family Foundation and Catholic Charities of St. Louis. The funding earmarked through Missouri’s Department of Social Services is among the billions of dollars states received to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-bedroom studio apartments will allow St. Patrick Center to provide clients an affordable housing solution more quickly and with fewer administrative delays. The facility will be staffed 24 hours, seven days a week by St. Patrick Center personnel for property management and maintenance. Case managers also will be onsite during business hours and on call after hours.
St. Patrick Center, a federated agency of Catholic Charities, is doing some renovation work on the building, located at 4516 North Market Street at Taylor Avenue, as the first clients begin to move in during the coming weeks. The apartments are one small, yet significant step toward addressing a critical need for affordable housing in the region, said St. Patrick Center CEO Anthony D’Agostino.
D’Agostino described the lack of affordable housing as a systematic problem, adding that he’d like to see St. Patrick Center and other nonprofit social service agencies continue to work toward securing additional affordable housing units.
“When you’re in a market-based for-profit system, you have to take it out of the market and ‘nonprofitize’ it,” he said. “The rent and the finances behind it are secondary to the services we’re trying to provide and the clients we’re trying to serve.”
St Patrick Center’s housing-first mission recognizes the inherent dignity of every person, D’Agostino said. “We have to solve that problem, and that’s what St. Patrick center does. It’s recognizing the need, trying to solve it, and meeting people where they’re at.”
St. Patrick Center has housed more than 400 people this year through a collaboration with three major hospitals: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Mercy St. Louis, said Jonathan Belcher, senior director of programs for long-term transformation. The Hospital to Healthy Housing Program focuses on clients who frequently use emergency departments for primary care services or to find shelter.
“They don’t know anywhere else to go, or aren’t connected with a primary care physician,” Belcher said. McFarlane Place “will allow us to move somebody directly in and start providing services to them.”
St. Patrick Center also works with partner landlords and manages other housing facilities in the area, but Belcher said they have seen the effects of increasing rent. “We have started to see landlords we have been working with for years with our clients who are asking for $200-300 more when we sign a new lease with them,” he said. “They’re saying the neighbor across the street is doing the same thing, and they’re getting it.”
St. Patrick Center places anywhere from 200-300 veterans into housing each year, with many of them receiving services for up to a year or more, said Lana Watson, senior director of programs for short-term transition. Nearly 150 veterans have graduated from services and are still permanently housed, she added, with an 85% retention rate for veterans still housed one year after completing services.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has set a national goal to house 38,000 homeless veterans in 2022. As of the end of September, the VA has achieved 34,373 permanent housing placements, meeting 90.46% of the goal.
Belcher said McFarlane Place will give veterans quick and direct access to housing and services. “It takes time to get qualified for a unit on the outside or to get qualified for a program,” he said. “Knowing exactly where they are and having quick access to a unit and providing services, it really helps out.”
>> Affordable housing in St. Louis
• There are approximately 38,000 affordable housing units supported by federal and state subsidies in St. Louis City and County.
• 82% of households living in subsidized housing make less than $20,000 in annual household income.
• There are nearly 51,870 residents of subsidized housing in the St. Louis region. 83% are Black, 11% are white and 6% are other races.
• In the past six years, St. Louis has added nearly 13,000 new housing units, most of which are non-subsidized and are affordable only to high-income households.
• The number of new housing units being built annually has decreased by 40% since 2015.
• An estimated 10% of all new housing units were built using an affordable housing subsidy since 2015.
Source: St. Louis Affordable Housing Report Card, 2021. www.affordablestl.com