Transition & Expansion: Biddle House and Soulard Shelter
Heraclitus famously stated:
“The only constant in life is change.”
At Peter & Paul, we find this statement to be all too true. As you may know, we are relocating and expanding our Soulard Shelter, the oldest continuously operating men’s shelter in the region, opened in 1981. So many people have re-started their lives with us there in the basement of the Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. Now, instead of serving 60 men a night—while constantly turning away men for lack of beds—we have a new vision, one we have been developing with deliberation and care.
We plan to serve 100 men daily with 24-hour care. We will offer an extensive array of onsite professional services with the end goal of stable, sustainable housing attained for each man. With $5 million in mixed funding awarded and pledged toward purchase and renovation, we are getting closer to making the vision reality, however, challenges remain. Specifically, we must raise another $2-$3 million for the new facility as well as secure the location.
Over the past 18 months, a location has eluded us. We found a promising site on south Broadway that didn’t work out and then had an offer accepted in the Carondelet area which was opposed by the neighbors. Now we are attempting to secure a final location.
Finding neighbors who will welcome our new facility near them is our biggest challenge. We have run the Soulard Shelter for 42 years with very few issues. With our new model of 24-hour care and a cadre of clinical and safety professionals on site, the shelter’s new neighborhood will actually see an improvement. We will be good neighbors who are respected and trusted.
PPCS CEO Anthony D’Agostino
PPCS has a Good Neighbor Policy signed by each shelter guest and works diligently to respond to any concerns.
At our new site, we aim to prioritize taking in any homeless man in the immediate vicinity as a way of providing added value to the neighborhood. We welcome exploring the purchase of derelict or long vacant properties and renovating them as a way of increasing nearby property value through our investment.
PPCS CEO Anthony D’Agostino
As work to expand and re-locate Soulard Shelter continues, PPCS is also working to transition out of the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center (BHOC). This emergency shelter for men is one of the biggest in the region with 100 beds. At the urging of the City of St. Louis, PPCS began operating the shelter in August 2022. After only 10 months of operations, the City decided not to renew PPCS’ contract and transition to another provider, this being the fifth provider transition in seven years. During our short time operating BHOC, PPCS increased the number of clients by 136% and permanently housed more than 50 of its residents.
We wish the new operator well and will do everything in our power make the transition smooth for the men living at Biddle. After the transition is final on August 31, we will have more time and energy to focus the Soulard Shelter expansion. That is a silver lining.