Hearing Tuesday for fate of Larry Rice downtown homeless shelter


by Diana Zoga / News 4


Posted on September 23, 2013 at 7:55 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 6:07 PM

Interstate 44, St. Louis, MO 63110

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(KMOV) -- On Tuesday, the Board of Public Service will hear arguments for and against revoking the operating permit for the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis.

Last fall, the city put up barricades on sidewalks that border the center after complaints about people camping on the sidewalks.  Police also promised to pick up patrols after neighbors reported public drinking, urinating, even drug use.

Reverend Larry Rice, who runs the shelter, says he should not be held responsible for what happens outside the shelter.

“We don’t have any control - except that’s in front of our building.  So, they’ll be showing stuff from a year or two ago. We don’t have people sleeping out around the building right now. We have lots of lighting around the building.  We try to be good neighbors,” said Rice.

Elkin Kistner, an attorney hired to argue that the city should revoke the NLEC’s license, says he has more than 130 signatures from neighbors who insist the NLEC is detrimental to the neighborhood.

“I think it’s years of frustration over the fact that not much has happened in terms of the shelter taking steps to curb the behavior of the population it claims it serves,” said Kistner.

Specifically, the petition states that there is loitering by people who frequent the shelter, littering, lewd acts like public urination, sale or use of illegal drugs, harassment, noise, and sidewalk congestion.

The Board of Public Service is made up of six city department heads, plus the Board of Public Service president.  It takes a simple majority to decide whether the NLEC keeps its license or whether it is revoked. 

The first hearing is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. in room 208 at St Louis City Hall on Tuesday, September 24th.   The city expects to hold two other hearings after that.  The exact dates and times of those hearings have not been set.  The hearings are open to the public.