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Readers: Limiting NLEC to 32 Beds is Fair, Alternatives Exist

December 30, 2014 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll 11 Comments

A week ago today the city’s Board of Adjustment ruled the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless shelter must 1) limit beds to the licensed 32 beds 2) seek a new license that would allow more emergency beds or 3) close. Larry Rice, however, wants to continue as he has been — stuffing far more people into a rundown facility after coercing them to do lots of free labor.

NLEC last week, just hours before the decision. The building was originally a YWCA.
NLEC last week, just hours before the decision. The building was originally a YWCA.

Here are the results from Sunday’s poll:

Q: Thoughts on the city calling Larry Rice’s NLEC a “nuisance”? (pick up to two)

  1. TIE:
    1. Limiting the licensed occupancy to 32 beds is fair, considering the conditions. 28 [25.69%]
    2. There are other/better alternatives to NLEC available. 28 [25.69%]
  2. Rice’s TV televangelism empire depends on a large visible homeless population 18 [16.51%]
  3. NLEC was there before the condos & apartments 15 [13.76%]
  4. Where will the homeless sleep if NLEC is limited to 32 beds? 10 [9.17%]
  5. NLEC should be able to sleep 300, or more, if they want 3 [2.75%]
  6. Other: 3 [2.75%]
    1. If NLEC had better job training and mental service, open all day Add as a poll answer
    2. it’s high time for NLEC to cease and desist. It’s not a church but a flop house
    3. It and he are nuisances.
  7. NLEC is a religious facility, no government license should be required. 2 [1.83%]

The #2 answer is closest to the truth — Rice desperately needs to maintain the exterior appearance of lots of homeless. Without a visible homeless population he doesn’t have a hook to get donations.

In 2009, court documents estimated New Life has assets between $40 million and $50 million, including radio and television stations. In 2008, the center reported receiving more than $1.8 million in cash contributions. (stltoday.com)

I can assure you other non-profits do more for the homeless with a fraction of the total assets, social workers & researchers are now realizing there is a much more effective & humane way to help the homeless than how Rice has operated NLEC for nearly 40 years:

  • Permanent housing, not a hard cot in a room crowded with hundreds of men
  • Hot meals prepared by a trained chef in an inspected kitchen, not sandwiches out of a trunk on the street
  • Social workers & occupational therapists to find & resolve problems, not free labor & religion
  • Secure places to store belongings, not encouraged to carry bags to increase visibility
  • Daytime space & activities, not being out on the street for 12 hours.
  • Security inside & outside during operations, not ignoring everything that happens just outside.

In these examples the former is how other agencies in St. Louis are trying to end/reduce homelessness, the latter is how Rice maintains the visible problem that keeps millions in coming in. I don’t expect this to be over in May, Rice will fight to maintain his status quo.  He misses the old days of vacant warehouses, lack of restaurants, jobs and any sort of measurable economic activity downtown.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Sgt Stadanko says:

    Larry Rice’s Roach Motel needs to be shut down. He stifles growth downtown. I know many people that have moved out of downtown because of the hoards of homeless thanks to the (so called) Reverend Rice.

    He is another snake oil salesman that gets out of taxes because he is running a “church”. These poor people are used as pawns. He isn’t helping them. Ever see his skid row on Locust at 6am when he shags them out? It looks like a zombie movie with masses of people slowly shuffling around in a mass herd.

    I wonder how many of these bleeding hearts that answered the poll actually live near NLEC, like myself? It is easy to be righteous from your ivory tower in the county.

    • Julie Gray says:

      I agree with you.
      I think he makes alot of money for himself and does not help the people he claims to help. I think it should have been set up as a rehabilitation center to get people back on their feet not a flop house. The homeless deserve more respect

      • I don’t think he’s like a Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer, living lavishly. I just know non-profits with social workers, occupational therapists, chefscooks, etc are doing great thing to get the homeless off the streets — back to their families, in their own apartments, etc.

        • Sgt Stadanko says:

          I recently spoke to this war vet who was on the street for 2 years and finally was getting back into an apartment. With no help from the So-called Reverend. He told me he would sleep on the street rather than NLEC. He said it wasn’t safe. Thanks, Sarge

        • JZ71 says:

          No one is accusing Rev. Rice of living lavishly, they’re accusing him of using the homeless as pawns and doing little to help them, unlike the non-profits with social workers that you admire.

  2. Mark says:

    Just yesterday on my way home from the gym I was stopped outside Rosalita’s holding a baby. She told me that her car had run out of gas and she asked me for gas money. OK, I can’t tell you how many times I have been told some version of this story. So were supposed to believe that someone drives to a city where they don’t live without enough gas to get home, and just happens to end up on one of the more populated streets in the city? The last time this happened to me was in Chicago, downtown outside a concert. On average, I get hit up by someone asking for money 10 to 15 times a week and I am sick of it. If you don’t have a problem asking strangers for money, there is no reason that you can not work, they just found an easier way.
    Looking at the PD’s captions for pictures of Larry’s Thanksgiving dinner, I am amazed at how many of the people being served are from outside the area, or surrounding towns in Illinois, same with the people serving them. Why should we allow are city to become a dumping ground for people who don’t and have never lived here? This idea that these people are our responsibility while the people in Fenton and elsewhere go on and complain that the city does not do enough to help their residents is BS. Get rid of the NLEC.

  3. rusty says:

    If its staying open nothing will change. This is meaningless, bulldoze it

  4. KP says:

    The CityView apartment complex is just a few blocks from the New Life Evangelistic Center. Back when those apartments were known as Plaza Square, I lived there for quite a few years and initially the homeless from New Life were not much of a detriment because they did not hang around the area so much during the day.
    What REALLY accelerated Plaza Square’s decline and eventual bankruptcy (besides the owners not putting any money into upgrading or maintaining the property) was when the city established a partnership with the Centenary Methodist Church (located right in the center of the complex) to house a day shelter for the homeless. This was supposed to be the first of several satellite locations that would disperse the services (and thus the homeless) throughout the city, but ended up being the ONLY one.
    The then-Plaza Square owner and many of us tenants spoke up about the problems we thought this would bring. My understanding is the homeless get meals, laundry, showers and other services at the church. The end result? They linger around the apartments all day long, and fights, sex acts, and drug dealing became a regular happening. (Just a few days ago there was a drive-by shooting almost at the church’s doorstep at 16th and Olive). The church uses Larry Rice’s argument – they are not responsible for what their “guests” do off their property. The Plaza Square building immediately east of the church has been beautifully rehabbed as a senior citizen residence, and I hear is already having trouble attracting tenants (they now offer two months free rent, I believe). I’m sure this is because the prospective tenants take one look at all the homeless milling about and figure (and rightly so) that the area is unsafe.

    • Sgt Stadanko says:

      All these people have is TIME, so they loiter where there are city residents who actually contribute to society. Then they can panhandle, talk to themselves, perform lewd & disgusting acts in public…the list goes on and on. They literally bring down your property value by just their presence alone.

      I will call it like it is and not be politically correct… but i don’t want to see or deal with these people. I get up every day, go to work, pay taxes. These are society leaches that just want to play your pity like a cheap fiddle. It is one thing to deal with the local homeless but as downtown residents, we have to also deal with these derelicts from everywhere else that the “so-called Reverend” buses in from all over the place.

      Now, I can’t group all into this category, but it is the majority. There are some war vets, unemployed mixed in with these human cockroaches. I feel bad for them and they are the ones that can use a hand. You can usually tell those apart from the others since they don’t ask you for a thing. And once they get a load of whats lurking in the NLEC… their feet can’t move fast enough to get out of here.

      As long as his donations keep pouring in from the suckers, saps, morons who are trying to buy their way to heaven, he is not going anywhere. And the harm he is doing to downtown continues to choke growth downtown. He should be ridden out on a rail. Thanks, Sarge

  5. Sgt Stadanko says:

    I can imagine the monkey shines that go on during the sleeping hours at the NLEC flophouse. I once spoke to a Iraq War vet who was on his way back to Texas and slept a night at the NLEC and said he was awoken to someone fondling his genitals. I thank God everyday that I am not homeless and have a job…none of which can be taken for granted. I think the Reverend Tax Evader should have to sleep in the same accommodations as his tenants that he exploits for his dirty money. Thanks, Sarge


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