Homelessness In St. Louis: Solutions Exist, But Hearings Will Determine Future Of Shelter

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Danny Wicentowski
"Nobody wants to shit on the street."

That was just one blunt reaction at a wide-ranging town hall meeting on homelessness Tuesday night, exactly seven days before the fate of the emergency homeless shelter at New Life Evangelistic Center goes before the city's Board of Public Service. A diverse crowd of 170 gathered to at Christ Church Cathedral to try to come up with innovative solutions to homelessness.

Though the intent was to have a very general conversation, New Life's impending hearing was not far from the mind of panelist Reverend Chris Rice, who works with his father Reverend Larry Rice at the center.

"We're ready. We've had to make ourselves ready," he told Daily RFT of next week's hearings.

See also: Homelessness in Downtown: Is New Life Evangelistic Center the Problem or the Solution?

In his remarks on the panel, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed did not address whether or not he'd be supporting New Life in any way at next week's Board of Public Service hearing. And though she also never referred to New Life by name, Megan Heeney, another panelist who works as social worker with Karen House, said she was "concerned about a series of actions that have taken place recently that appear to be systemic segregation of the folks that are homeless from the rest of the population." She went on to specifically list a number of the city's failures, such as too few shelters, too few emergency services among them.

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Danny Wicentowski
Reverend Chris Rice, of the New Life Evangelistic Center, said expressed his concern about the future of homeless services in downtown.

Amanda Andrus, owner of the Gelateria Tavolini downtown, spoke about the difficulty in balancing her desire to help the less fortunate with the practicalities of running a business. For example: What's the right thing to do when it becomes apparent to her - and the entire store -- that the homeless man warming himself with a cup of coffee has definitely gone a very, very long time without bathing? Do you ask him to leave? Is that right?

In a break out session, the following suggestions were raised as a means of combating homelessness in new and innovative ways:

  • Create a "buddy system" between homeless individuals and businesses to form relationships and ties to community resources.
  • Organize networks of smaller, more manageable shelters.
  • Address transportation needs of the homeless.
  • Increase emergency shelter space, especially during the winter.
  • Look for more unrestricted funding from both private businesses and government sources.

While these represent long-term solutions, things could change drastically for New Life's residents in the very near future. The first hearing will take place September 24 at 1:45 p.m. in Room 208 at City Hall. Check out the notice the Rices received from the city below:

Sept 24 Hearing New Life Evangelistic Center

Follow Daniel Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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15 comments
Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

Its been a total failure......Another do gooder....doing more harm than good.....I used to live in a highrise near Larry Rice NLEC !!! Nothing but MOSTLY bums on drugs that go there to get food & then back on the streets to beg steal & make life horrible for surrounding neighbors......Very few people that frequent there are legit......If that makes any sense........so many of them have mental instabilities that our government is turning their backs on..........SAD all the way around.......... :-(

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

Ganging up-four or five against one. The St. Louis way. The solution to ending ornearly ending homelessness is actually bringing back downtown St. Louis and the last time that could have been done was 1998. And, they said NO. Since then homelessness has been politicized with everyone blaming Larry Rice for pretty much complete failure. I only know he has been at it decades longer than the newcomers. Jimmy-I agree. But they spent $160 million for an unnecessary expansion of the Art Museum, mostly for parking and are spending probably $500 million on the arch grounds.

Leslee Brown
Leslee Brown

Larry only does think to stroke his own ego. Years ago my son did his community service for conformation there and that shelter is a total shit hole. Larry walks around like the pompous ass he is. The homeless really don't get much from him at all. They had a huge pile of frozen turkeys sitting out for hours for people to get. Some of the turkey's were lukewarm, how's that heathy???

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

Probably not while Rev. Lawrence is involved.

Brent Johnstone
Brent Johnstone

Yes ,see the stone relief behind all the want to be big shots ? Sell it ! Take the lunch funds from the so called officials . Think the tax payers would rather feed the needy then those ******** ! Do a investigative report on how tax payer dollars government employees spend to feed them ?!?

Jim Volner
Jim Volner

Take care of the homeless already St.Louis! #downhillfromhere!

Joe Happy-Pork Chop Wood
Joe Happy-Pork Chop Wood

they've been discussing this for a long time... I lived in the city from 1997 to the year 2002.. homelessness is always been an issue, I remember when I lived at Plaza Square Pope John Paul the second visit St Louis and passed by up I live, the park along Market Street where the homeless pretty much sleep on benches and hang out during the day was cleared of homeless people the whole week... I have no idea where the police put them... about 3 days after the Pope left, they returned. people that go to the new life evangelistic center use to tell story about people getting stabbed inside there... I don't know if it really happened with the rumor certainly got around to every person that slept on a bench... I know that hopeVille is totally totally cleared away down on the riverfront... I don't know where they expect these people to go. but what I do know is for those inside Nlec, there are probably a hundred more out on the street.

Mary Miller Cullins
Mary Miller Cullins

Clarification: The meeting at Christ Church Cathedral was not to discuss the future of New Life Evangelistic Center. It was to come together across different constituencies to see how we could work together on solutions to homelessness in the region.

Mike Kinman
Mike Kinman

Your status is factually incorrect. The meeting at Christ Church Cathedral was not to discuss the future of New Life Evangelistic Center. It was to come together across different constituencies to see how we could work together on solutions to homelessness in the region.

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

see if the catholics will put them up in all their empty buildings they have everywhere?

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

Who cares where they go? Send them to Syria.

Hippie Granny
Hippie Granny

Where are the homeless going to go? Does the city plan on having arrangements made for them? They could be creating a much more difficult problem.

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