New Life Evangelistic Center

Gateway 180 at 19th St. and Cole St. provides shelter to more than 100 women and families.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis is following through on its goal to open two emergency homeless shelters by mid-April, but a lot of the details are still being worked out.

The men’s shelter is temporarily being housed at the 12th and Park Recreation Center in the LaSalle Park neighborhood.

photo of NLEC. Only emergency shelter in the region that will take anyone. Run by Larry Rice
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis says it will meet an April 12 deadline to open new emergency homeless shelters.

The city announced in February that it was seeking providers who were capable of opening as many as 250 beds by that deadline, either by expanding their existing facilities or by building new ones.

New Life Evangelistic Center director Larry Rice (center) said the emergency homeless shelter will seek an injunction against a city deadline to reduce its overnight beds.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:20 p.m. March 3 with filing of complaint

The Rev. Larry Rice has asked a federal judge to block the pending closure of his homeless shelter at the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis, saying efforts by the city of St. Louis to shutter the facility violate the non-profit's freedom of religion.

Anthony Knight, left, listens as New Life Shelter Manager Scott Eagen addresses the group. Bob Linsey and Lamont Belle in the backround look on.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A small group of people, many connected to New Life Evangelistic Center, gathered Saturday for a meeting of the Metro St. Louis Coalition for the Homeless.  The group’s main topic of discussion was what to do now that the city has declared New Life’s emergency shelter a nuisance and given the organization until May to reduce the number of people they serve or shut down.

Protests at Board of Public Service meeting 12-23-14
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The city's Board of Public Service has ruled that the emergency homeless shelter at the New Life Evangelistic Center is a detriment to the neighborhood and must close in May unless it changes the way it operates.

Tuesday's unanimous vote by the board provoked shouts of "Shame!" and "What would Jesus do!" from a standing-room-only crowd, followed by chants of "homeless lives matter!" Crowd members also accused the board of holding an illegal meeting because they allowed no time for public comment. 

photo of NLEC. Only emergency shelter in the region that will take anyone. Run by Larry Rice
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

A two year-long battle over the fate of a downtown St. Louis homeless shelter could come to an end on Tuesday, when a city agency votes on a petition to revoke New Life Evangelistic Center’s hotel license.

Downtown residents and business owners began petitioning to close New Life two years ago, saying that the facility is a detriment to the neighborhood.

Mayor Francis Slay requested that the two sides undergo mediation in October, but New Life founder Rev. Larry Rice said the mediation was not successful.

photo of NLEC. Only emergency shelter in the region that will take anyone. Run by Larry Rice
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

A nearly two-year-old fight to close the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis will last a while longer. 

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Rev. Larry Rice opened his emergency shelter at the New Life Evangelistic Center in 1976 with permission from the city to house 32 people. Back then, the area around his building at 1411 Locust was mostly factories and warehouses for St. Louis’ garment district.

Many of those buildings are now loft apartments with bars and restaurants on the first floor, and Rice admits to regularly sheltering as many as 300 people a night.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The New Life Evangelistic Center’s emergency homeless shelter in downtown St. Louis is no worse for the neighborhood than bars nearby on Washington Avenue.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

An effort by a group of downtown St. Louis residents to shutter the New Life Evangelistic Center got underway on Tuesday in front of the city's Board of Public Service.

It was the first of what will be several days of testimony on whether the homeless shelter run by the Rev. Larry Rice is a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood. The quasi-judicial proceeding was prompted by a petition from 134 people who own property within a prescribed radius of the shelter, which is at the corner of 14th and Locust streets.

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