Long-time Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff retires on Wednesday, November 26, 2014, after a long, distinguished career helping children, families and individuals in need of assistance in the City of St. Louis.
As Mayor Francis Slay's Director of Human Services, Bill has facilitated public, private, and non-profit agreements to help the City's most vulnerable residents for the past 13 years, shaping the strategic plans that address the needs of children and youth, and people who are disabled, elderly, homeless, or ex-offenders.
"Bill Siedhoff has been not only a strong public servant, but also a voice and advocate for our City's most vulnerable residents," said Mayor Slay. "Bill is leaving St.Louis a better, more compassionate place. Many of the policies and programs implemented under his leadership have been studied and replicated in other communities nationwide because of their success."
During Bill's tenure as Director of the Department of Human Services, homelessness in the City ofSt. Louishas ranked among the lowest among major cities in the country. In 2005, the City implemented the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness with an emphasis on providing permanent supportive housing. When Mayor Slay took office in 2001, there were only 11 units of permanent supportive housing available for the chronically homeless. Since that time, the City has developed more than 1,400 units of supportive housing, resulting in the number of people who are chronically homeless dropping in the most recent census count to 112 from more than 300 when Bill became director.
When combined with transitional housing programs and emergency shelter, the City provides housing to nearly 3,000 people every night. Bill and his staff also oversaw the City's Winter Overflow Shelter to house people who are homeless during dangerously cold nights. Over last winter's record cold, as many as 200 people sought shelter each night, which prevented deaths related to the extreme temperature.
Philip Mangano, federal homeless czar under Presidents Bush and Obama, said that "if there had been a Bill Seidhoff in every city in our country, the whole nation would be joining in St. Louis' success in reducing chronic and veterans homelessness."
"Bill took the political will of Mayor Slay, created a citywide partnership to implement a plan, and maximized federal resources in makingSt. Louisa model for cities acrossAmerica," Mr. Mangano said. "Bill, himself, is a model of public service whose career assisting the less fortunate is a legacy that has benefited all the citizens of St. Louis. He will be missed."
"Bill is a familiar face around town," said Mayor Slay. "People who are homeless know him on a first-name basis. They often see him, at age 72, riding his bike in the evening and on weekends in downtown St. Louis to meet and talk with people who are homeless about their circumstances and their need for services."
"It has truly been a great run over the last 13 years," said Siedhoff. "It was not always easy in light of the nature of our work, but it is certainly very important, fulfilling work affecting the lives of countless number of individuals here in the City. We repeatedly have been commended for our many accomplishments and held in high regard throughout our community, which I attribute to all of my staff and partner organizations. It's been an honor to be a part of Mayor Slay's cabinet, and I thank him for his support and giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity for these many years. I am finding that the hardest part of retiring is leaving behind so many wonderful people, but I realize it's time to move on to the next stage of my life."
Bill currently serves on more than 30 boards, commissions and committees at the local and state levels, along with teaching the next generation of social workers at several local universities.
The list of awards and accolades for Bill is long. Most recently, Bill was awarded St. Louis Crisis Nursery's Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the community. Also this year, Bill was honored as an Outstanding Older Worker by the State of Missouri. In 2013, he received a Legacy Award from Shalom House for his guidance and leadership in addressing the needs of people who are homeless. Also, in 2013, the BEACH Project, a rapid re-housing program established by his department, was featured at the Next Practices Colloquy at Harvard University. In May, 2011, Bill received the McGough Award from the National Convocation of Jail & Prison Ministry.
The City's Human Services Department includes: Homeless Services, Office on the Disabled, St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, Veterans Services, and Youth & Family.
Department of Human Services
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