Time for tent city to go: Mayor tells homeless of St. Louis it's a health risk

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Time is up for the homeless encampment along Market Street in downtown St. Louis. Mayor Lyda Krewson says during this pandemic, it's too dangerous.

Krewson says by Friday at 10 a.m., the tent city where a group of St. Louis' homeless population has been living for weeks will be closed. She says there are four or five homeless shelters setup to accommodate all the people in the encampment.

"We do have beds available for everyone that's in these encampments," Krewson says. She believes there are about 50 occupied tents next to City Hall. 

The looming shutdown is coming under fire from a longtime advocate for the homeless. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center says the mayor is getting rid of an eyesore, but predicts many will pick up their tents and scatter. He believes they'll start new encampments along the riverfront or in vacant buildings.

"These people are hurting and the city is just using (coronavirus) as an excuse because Mayor Krewson is embarrassed," Killeen says. "She doesn't want a Krewsonville, like there was a Hooverville during the depression we had in the past." 

Starting Thursday, there will be health screenings with testing for COVID-19 and other medical issues.