A big, green and white tent is erected where Rev. Larry Rice hopes to put new homeless camp in St. Louis County. The county announced on Aug. 31 that it plans to open an emergency shelter in its borders.
St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley is pledging to open an emergency homeless shelter in the county by the end of the year.
Dooley announced the shift in policy in a series of Tweets on Friday. The county will also be looking for agencies to operate transitional housing - which is a stepping stone between a shelter and a permanent residence - and will host a homeless summit in October.
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.