ST. LOUIS – Back in September, FOX 2 reported on a married couple expecting a baby but living in a tent on the lawn of St. Louis City Hall.
FOX 2 met with the couple again on Tuesday and found that they had moved and welcomed their baby girl eight days ago but were still without a home.
When we first met William Clay, he feared his wife, Erica, might give birth in their temporary tent home. She was seven months pregnant at the time.
Nearly three months later, he was holding his daughter, Destiny Divine Clay. It was a moment much too rare. The process of trying to find a permanent home has kept him apart from his wife and infant.
“When we left the lawn of the city hall, I thought things were going to get better. It hasn’t gotten any better,” William Clay said. “It maybe has gotten a little worse because now we’re apart.”
William and Erica were able to get into St. Louis City’s Tiny Home Village transitional housing in October, but only until the baby came. The village is not designed for couples with children.
The Gateway 180 shelter is designed for families like the Clays but only allows Erica and Destiny to stay there, not William.
Erica told FOX 2 that she wanted her husband to stay at the shelter with her and the baby, but the shelter would not allow it “because we have some domestic issues that we need to work on.”
“So, now we’re stuck. She’s at Gateway and I’m here at the Tiny Homes,” William Clay said.
Gateway 180’s director told FOX 2 that the couple’s domestic issues could simply stem from living in a shelter and that the staff was working hard to find permanent housing for the Clays, hopefully within eight weeks. The Clays are hoping for something sooner.
Erica has a job waiting for her and William is looking for something better than his last job, which offered limited hours.
“We have rent and deposit. I just need somewhere to go,” Erica said.
Making things worse, with all the moving from the tents at city hall to the tiny home village but having no true home, the state of Missouri placed Erica’s 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter into foster care. Permanent housing is key to bringing them home, too.
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green issued the following statement:
“What’s happening to the Clay family is heartbreaking and underscores the need for more shelters in our city that meet the diverse needs of our unhoused neighbors. No family should be forced to choose between access to housing or family unity.”
‘We need to be in a home so we can get these kids back and be together as a family,” William said.
Sadly, the older kids had yet to meet their baby sister.