Controversy Over Veteran’s Program in Downtown St. Louis
Last night, KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis ran a story about the controversy over a program to house veterans with problems like alcohol or drug dependency in a downtown apartment building. The Post-Dispatch has a story about it today. To sum it up in one sentence, downtown residents are concerned about housing veterans with these problems in their neighborhood, and angry that they were not consulted about it beforehand.
I have probably never sided with the government nearly as much as I have on this issue. Please tell me why the hell the residents of the area needed to be consulted before the program moved forward? Obviously, this use was within zoning rules for the area, so that argument is moot. Why should St. Patrick’s Center or City Hall need to ask permission or seek input before they move forward with a worthwhile program that is perfectly legal and completely normal for the area?
I like one particular speaker in the Channel 5 video who expresses concern about housing 45 or so veterans at 12th and Washington, because his grandkids visit him downtown. Where to begin on this insanity? There are two homeless shelters already there (Salvation Army and Larry Rice’s place), and a hotel on 9th St. that houses more sex offenders than any other place in Missouri. I would think they might want the veterans downtown; at least you know they can shoot.
I used to live in downtown St. Louis, from 1998 to 2002. I fully understand the residents’ concerns about the homeless, and I have no problem with efforts to move homeless shelters out of the area. I agree that the loft district will never fully succeed with two homeless shelters operating in its heart. But the veterans in this project are not homeless. They are given apartments and required to hold a job while they are enrolled in the St. Patrick’s Center program to help them overcome their issues. It is a terrific program for people who need and deserve help. I can’t fathom the opposition that is highlighted in these reports.
I think this might be another example of the harm that eminent domain and government-driven “economic development” have done to people’s minds. Some people think they have the right to tell other property owners what to do with their own property, even when it falls perfectly within the zoning codes.