Crisis @ 2035 Shenandoah Ave -- the Struggle for Shelter for the Unhoused in St. Louis
There is a war on the unhoused in St. Louis, Babylon system in our own time. The City will not adequately address the needs of the unhoused and the situation that begets them and yet City is aggressive in pressuring against those who feed and house the men and women whom City neglects.
The most recent battleground is the shelter for the unhoused at 2035 Shenandoah. The property is owned by Nadida Tuhada Amatullah-Matin and Mohammed Kamal, who run the Abdul-Wakil M Kamal Memorial Foundation. In partnership with Pastor Mike Robinson and Destiny Family Church, they have put together the resources to offer overnight shelter to about 60 men on a regular basis this winter. PotBangerz have supported the shelter with food and fellowship and have seen the good work of Nadida, Mohammed, Pastor Mike and their volunteers in action. The shelter at 2035 Shenandoah has saved lives.
And yet in the dead of winter, an alderman named Jack Coatar has exerted pressure to shut it all down. In the last week of January 2019, just as the Midwest was entering the freezing clench of a polar vortex, a weather event that disrupted life and claimed several lives across the nation, Coatar was writing to the Board of Alderman that the site must be condemned in short order. Nadida Amatullah-Matin and Mohammed Kamal maintain that their property has been updated to City specifications. Was the clock ticking on the building? When journalist Elliott Davis confronted Coatar on video, the latter dissembled.
I watched the exchange between Davis and Coatar and thought too narrowly: Nobody in his right mind would try to use the functions of government to shut down a shelter when temperatures are dropping down into the single digits. Would he? People die in weather like this.
He would. On the morning of Friday, February 8, a sign and a letter from the City of St. Louis were taped to the door – 2035 Shenandoah was hereby declared a condemned property. A dire scenario was suddenly at the doorstep.
Nadida and Mohammed and their allies inhaled and went into crisis mode. By Frantic Friday afternoon the mayor directed the building inspector’s office to rescind the condemnation. At dinner time it was bubbling again at 2035 with food for the unhoused after the customary blessing and invocation by Pastor Mike. Lights out at 10:30 p.m. Lights on by 6:45 a.m.