Rev. Larry Rice: Spend a night with the homeless to see what it's like

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by Laura Hettiger / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 11 at 1:30 PM

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The area’s leading homeless advocate, Rev. Larry Rice, has a new idea to help bring awareness to the growing problem in St. Louis. Rice invites the public for a Night with the Homeless.

Friday, Oct. 26 is the date for the slumber party inside the New Life Evangelistic Center. According to Rice, this is a way for people to raise awareness about the problem and to experience what it is like to be homeless.

News 4 was outside the center early Thursday morning. One man who frequents the center said it is a good thing for the public to see inside the facility—not to feel empathetic toward the homeless, but to see the poor conditions inside.

Rice said the center is extremely over-crowded. He said homeless is not just an issue for St. Louis, but for all towns and counties in the area. He and other homeless advocates hope more shelters will be opened before the holidays.

Too many people without homes is not the only problem around the downtown center. Rice said recent police barricades put up near the NLEC ultimately lead to raised rates at nearby parking lots.  He said it is routine for people to spend the night at the center and come out to find their car has either been ticketed or towed.

“If (the police) want to continue to partly block the sidewalks off, we can understand what they’re trying to say, but the fact is, release the parking meters at this point so we don’t continue to see the parking rates go up around us,” Rice said.

Police barricades block at least two dozen meters; the meters on Locust cost $1.00 an hour. However, a parking lot east of the NLCS charges $5.00 a day while a lot two blocks away costs $3.00 a day.

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