New Life Evangelistic Center

New Life Evangelistic Center is located in downtown St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The Board of Building Appeals in St. Louis city board has unanimously voted to require a downtown homeless shelter to seek approval from its neighbors for a new occupancy permit.

The board also voted Thursday to allow New Life Evangelistic Center to continue operating next to a school.

St. Louis city police convene June 28, 2016 at the park across the street from the St. Louis Public Library headquarters on Olive Street downtown. People experiencing homelessness often can be found at the park.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Homeless advocates say a bill being considered by St. Louis aldermen would bar them from helping people in need.

The measure would require a vendor’s license to distribute food, blankets or other goods on city sidewalks or parks — even if those items are being given away. It would also make it illegal to give anything away between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

New Life attorney Todd Lubben, right, asks New Life Vice President Raymond Redlich a question during testimony May 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 26 with final testimony - By this time next month New Life Evangelistic Center could know whether St. Louis will give the downtown shelter a new occupancy permit without the approval of its neighbors. The city's Board of Building Appeals finished hearing testimony Thursday in an appeal requested by New Life. The shelter is also asking for an exemption to continue operating within 500 feet of a school.

The appeal is a follow-up to a December 2014 ruling, when another city board found New Life was a detriment to the neighborhood.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

Updated Dec. 9 with city permit denial - St. Louis has denied a request from the New Life Evangelistic Center to be exempted from two city code requirements as it applies for a new occupancy permit for its homeless shelter. Those city codes forbid shelters from being within 500 feet of a school, and require them to get the written support of local business owners and residents.

New Life Evangelistic Center is located in downtown St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis has long been at odds with the city over its ability to safely shelter more than a hundred people every night. But a big part of what keeps the shelter afloat has been left out of the debate: its practice of requiring long-term residents to work full time without pay in exchange for room and board. In addition, residents who receive supplemental social security checks for their disabilities are required to donate 40 percent of their income to the church.

Larry Rice, the director of the New Life Evangelistic Center, holds a press conference in a worship area that also serves as an overflow room to accommodate additional people at the shelter.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled that the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis can stay open, until further order from the court.  

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 11:45 p.m. May 28

Rev. Larry Rice, city of St. Louis attorneys and neighborhood stakeholders are continuing with mediation that could allow his homeless shelter downtown to remain open and avoid going to trial this September.

According to a spokeswoman for New Life Evangelistic Center, the parties met for 9 hours on Wednesday in Clayton, but reached no final agreements.

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.

An advocate for the homeless is pressing for Belleville voters to decide whether he can convert the city's former YMCA building into a shelter. The Rev. Larry Rice on Monday submitted a 790-signature petition to the St. Clair County Clerk's Office to force the ballot measure calling for the city to sell the property to his New Life Evangelistic Center in St. Louis for $1.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the referendum could be on the April 9 municipal ballot if the petitions aren't challenged by Monday.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

Reverend Larry Rice says he is tired of waiting for the city to remove barriers that have surrounded his homeless shelter in downtown St. Louis for the past five weeks.

Sidewalks on both sides of Locust Street in front of New Life Evangelistic Center are blocked off by metal barriers. Bill Seidhoff, the director of the city’s department of human services, said the city placed the barriers there after receiving calls from residents who were concerned about hygiene and safety because of the homeless people who congregate and sleep around the center.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

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.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

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.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

The parents of 21-year-old Jeremy Dunlap say that there was not ample protection at the New Life Evangelistic Center to prevent their son's stabbing death in 2008. Tammy Church and Eric Dunlap filed separate wrongful death suits against the center today in St. Louis Circuit Court, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Though both lawsuits involve wrongful death, the specifics of each are slightly different.