Rev. Larry Rice directed about 20 homeless persons to a mall in Fairview Heights on Tuesday to underscore the lack of shelters in St. Clair County.
Rice says many homeless persons seeking refuge from the triple-digit temperatures wind up across the river at his shelter downtown.
“Belleville represents what we see in so many municipalities," Rice said. "Where people just aren’t dealing with the homeless. They’re closing shelters. We saw a shelter close here – the Salvation Army – in 2009. They made no other arrangements for the homeless.”
Reverend Larry Rice is suing the city of St. Louis and Public Safety Director Eddie Roth for condemning a homeless camp he tried to set up last month near Interstate 44.
The federal lawsuit filed Friday claims Roth failed to give a hearing prior to closing down the vacant lot on Vandeventer and interfered the group’s religious freedom.
“They went and condemned that vacant ground," Rice said. "And in a matter of hours they told us we had to get off the property and if we didn’t that we’d be arrested – of which I was arrested. And there was no violation.”
A local church is taking a more low-key approach in its struggle with city officials to set up a homeless camp in St. Louis.
Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center was arrested last week as he attempted to open a tent city called Integrity Village on a two-acre plot of private land at Vendeventer Ave. north of Interstate 44. City officials cleared the site and condemned the area as a health hazard. But Rice's son, Rev. Chris Rice, says they aren’t giving up.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slays says Rev. Larry Rice’s plan to host a homeless camp on Vandeventer Ave. north of Interstate 44 is a bad idea.
Speaking today on "St. Louis on the Air," Slay said he’s concerned about the same safety and health problems that plagued the tent cities by the Mississippi riverfront.
“If they’re on the property without the proper permits – the occupancy permits and other things under the zoning laws – they will be asked to leave and if they continue to violate the law people will be moved,” he said.
The Rev. Larry Rice yesterday unveiled his plans for "Integrity Village," which will be established today on two privately-owned acres near Interstate 44 and Vandeventer. Rice says the camp will be Christian-based and drug-free.
City officials say they won't permit this newest camp - but Rice says he'll be protected by the First Amendment.