Checking out the STLTODAY.com site tonight, I happened to notice the bottom right corner of my screen had the most commented upon stories. Whaddya know. LOFT DISTRICT was #1!
The story isn't new, but the article was from today. The Washington Avenue Apartments are housing veterans that were formerly homeless through some St. Patricks Center program[Project HERO].
The whole deal sounds good except for two small things. 1. When a group of any potentially risky people move into ANY neighborhood, there will be concerns and complaints. Inadequate notice and information seems to have been provided. 2. There is plenty of space in the City of St. Louis, Downtown has an inordinately large percentage of the special services for homeless.
All & all, the program sounds well thought out and managed. Not being an expert on programs to assist former homeless people, I was impressed with the operation as it was portrayed in the Post Dispatch article. There were several restrictions (no sex offenders, no dishonorable discharged veterans) and other checks and balances (weekly sobriety checks, on site supervision).
Unfortunately not all parties were portrayed in such a positive light.
The news stories that have been on the wire for the past
few days have the central theme that Downtown residents are outraged about this wonderful program for the formerly homeless veterans. Ironically, aside from the news stations & paper, the subject hasn't come up in any of my conversations with downtown residents this week.
What really inspired this post isn't my opinion of social programs for veterans but the negative perceptions that seem to exist for downtown residents. Read the comments after the story, its hideous! After a couple minutes, I was thinking that downtown residents need to hire downtown PR Firm Fleishman Hilliard or Weber Shandwick to improve thier image. Sincerely! Now, reading the comments after PD stories often makes about as much sense as what my 3 year old tells me. But I really started to question whether such a negative perception is common and if so, what affect it has on the growth and prosperity of downtown. Based on many of the comments, I would say the perception of Downtown St. Louis residents is an unpatriotic affluent yuppie with a sense of entitlement and a hatred for their fellow man.
Interestingly, I never thought of St. Louis as a 'military town,' but in my experience assisting people buying and selling downtown real estate, I've worked with 8 active military clients in the past, with two active military clients currently working with me and a few veteran contractors that work for the military as civilians. Statistically, the military is the largest employer of my clients, so the assault on downtown residents having "never served their country" is bogus.
Another total false-hood is that downtown residents as a whole can't live near the homeless. Obviously this topic isn't new. My very first client downtown lived in the Knickerbocker with a view into Lucas Park. Then and now; I've heard it all. Summing up everything though, most downtown residents are more concerned that 1. a small percentage of the homeless feel that rules don't apply to them, don't appear to be trying to improve their situation and are simply BAD NEIGHBORS, and 2. that as a society in general, and in several cases specifically, services to the homeless can be illegally handled and poorly appropriated. As an observer, things seem to have improved drastically since 2004, especially the overall appearance of Lucas Park. [Thanks, by the way, to all the Selfish entitled unpatriotic commie yuppie jerk downtown residents that spent thier weekends picking up trash and cleaning up after the homeless in Lucas Park back in the Fall.] (Had my bride and I not been in the middle of having our 3rd child, we would have helped.)
The bottom line, thanks again, in no small part to the Post Disgrace, people seem to "love to hate" downtown residents. Unlike T.O., in this case there's no basis in fact. (They were even ripping on Downtown residents for not having a grocer nearby. What's wrong with City Grocers?!?) Interestingly, the article cited two downtown residents that had opposition to the project. Both had business interests in downtown as well. Then two people that were in the Project HERO. So apparently that's all it takes to really get people ticked off and hating downtown is 2 people out of 11,000. I can't imagine that 0.018% of the population anywhere else has controversial opinion the Post can write about. Good luck to the men in HERO. Enjoy downtown!