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Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

October 17, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless Comments Off on Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a shower and meal.

The city’s Board of Adjustment ruled NLEC is a nuisance, and two court rulings since have confirmed the city acted properly.

I’m no social worker, but this is a subject that has held my interest for a very long time. There are five main causes of homelessness:

When Housing is Out of Reach More than at any other time, there is a lack of housing that low income people can afford. Without housing options, people face eviction, instability and homelessness. Income and Housing Affordability Low income households often do not earn enough to pay for food, clothing, transportation and a place they can call home. Connecting Homelessness and Health Health and homelessness are inextricably linked. Health problems can cause a person’s homelessness as well as be exacerbated by the experience. Housing is key to addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness. Escaping Violence Many survivors of domestic violence become homeless when leaving an abusive relationship. Impact of Racial Disparities Most minority groups in the United States experience homelessness at higher rates than Whites, and therefore make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population.

For years shelters required people to not be under the influence of alcohol or other substances to receive any services. Faith-based shelters often also required participation in their worship activities. This meant many would be turned away or they wouldn’t even bother going. It’s nearly impossible for those with mental health issues or addictions to address those without a safe place to sleep at night.

Aware of how service providers cobbled together a system that unintentionally victimized the people it aimed to help, Sam Tsemberis, PhD, in the 1990s developed a model known as Housing First. Its goal is to quickly provide safe, affordable, permanent housing quickly to people who are experiencing homelessness, particularly, although not solely, those with chronic homelessness and co-occurring conditions such as mental illness or substance use disorders. Housing First programs require few or no preconditions, such as participation in mental health or substance use disorder treatment, from the people they serve. In addition to permanent housing, Housing First programs provide a wide range of wraparound services that are readily available to participants and offered assertively, but not required. Studies show that that when people experiencing homelessness are given safe, stable, affordable housing, they are better able to address other problems and needs in their lives, such as substance use disorders and mental illness. As a result, homelessness, frequent use of hospital emergency departments, and psychiatric hospitalizations are reduced. (Social Work Today)

Of course, Housing First doesn’t work for everyone, but expecting those with substance abuse problems to suddenly stop while living on the streets is unrealistic.  Sorry, prayer won’t change their behavior on the streets.

Larry Rice doesn’t want the homeless housed so they can get treatment and their lives in order. He counts on people donating to help the cause. That’s his business model. From what I gather, he personally lives modestly — good. So do many of the people sending him money.

Last year Rice sold his TV station, channel 24, for a tidy sum:

According to filings with the Federal Communication Commission, TV-49 Inc. will pay $3.75 million to buy the independent station from Rice’s nonprofit New Life Evangelistic Center Inc. The station has broadcast secular programming, liberally interspersed with Rice’s religious sermons and calls to social activism, since it first hit the airwaves on Sept. 12, 1982. The sale does not include Rice’s property at 1411 Locust Street in downtown St. Louis — a building that had been used as a homeless shelter for years until it was closed in April by St. Louis city officials. (Post-Dispatch)

KNLC’s is now part of Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting, channel 24.1 is the new MeTV affiliate.  Their 24.2 does still broadcast Rice’s religious programming.

Here are the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Larry Rice should be allowed to reopen 1411 Locust as a day shelter for the homeless.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [14.63%]
  • Agree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [7.32%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Disagree: 8 [19.51%]
  • Strongly disagree: 20 [48.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Back to the two previously homeless individuals that have been in my loft. The first, ‘FC’, ceased being homeless 10 years ago today. That’s the day I let him begin staying in my previous residence — a corner storefront building in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. This arrangement helped both of us — a safe place for him and someone there to keep the property safe from vandals/thieves. FC lived there for a couple of years — the new owners allowed him to stay a while after I sold it.  He’s since gotten married, he and his wife bought a home together a few years ago.

FC is older than I am, but the other, DT, is roughly half my age. In 2016 I helped him get out of St. Louis so he could return to his family in Washington state. Both made some bad decisions in life, both were addicted to narcotics.

Remember, many homeless receive VA or disability income, work, etc. There are people on the streets that look homeless, their “job” is to take advantage of those who are homeless. It’s important to keep the homeless separated from those who prey on them. That includes the religious.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

October 14, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC, Religion, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?
Please vote below

Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter:

The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017.

The center’s director, the Reverend Larry Rice says, it’s hard to re-open when he can’t get petition signatures from neighbors in the locked loft next door.

“What’s really made this difficult is the people they want us to get signatures from are the people that put in the petition in order to stop us from doing the shelter,” Rice said, “At the same time, we’re willing to do our individual appeal to each person that lives in the loft next door at 15th and Locust, the management of those lofts refused to give us access.”

Rice says he may seek a court order granting him access to the building to talk to knock on doors of residents.

Also, he plans to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court and argue that his homeless shelter is a “local church” and has a Consitutional right to stay open to serve its congregation–the homeless. (KMOX)

Today’s non-scientific poll is about Larry Rice and his former shelter.

Today’s poll closes at 8pm tonight. The usual number of votes is around 28-32 so if there’s an effort to influence the outcome it’ll be very obvious. My thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: NLEC’s Closure Will Not Be A Negative For St. Louis

April 5, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC Comments Off on Readers: NLEC’s Closure Will Not Be A Negative For St. Louis

An overwhelming majority of those of voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll don’t think the closure of Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) will be a long-term negative.

A: Agree or disagree: today’s closure of the New Life Evangelistic Center (Rice’s homeless shelter) will be a long-term negative for St. Louis.

  • Strongly agree 7 [11.67%]
  • Agree 3 [5%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [3.33%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [1.67%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [6.67%]
  • Disagree 12 [20%]
  • Strongly disagree 30 [50%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.67%]

The majority are correct, if the closure remains permanent it’ll be neutral to slightly positive for everyone — including those who end up homeless.

NLEC Monday morning

Rice is motivated to keep homeless a visible problem on the streets — that brings in followers and donations. The rest of us concerned about the homeless want to get the homeless off the streets as quickly as possible. The last homeless person I helped had only been on our streets one night when I met him.

If it stays closed, his current supporters will eventually realize religion classes & cold baloney sandwiches isn’t the solution to homelessness

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Sunday Poll: Will NLEC’s Closing Be Positive Or Negative In The Long-Term?

April 2, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will NLEC’s Closing Be Positive Or Negative In The Long-Term?
Please vote below

Late last week Larry Rice said his downtown emergency emergency shelter, the New Life Evangelistic Center will close today:

Rev. Larry Rice said he will comply with a judge’s order and close his downtown shelter.

The New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) will be ceasing operations on 5:00 p.m. Sunday. A judge refused Rice’s request to keep the shelter on open Thursday. (Post-Dispatch)

Rice said he hopes the closure is temporary.  Today’s poll assumes the closure is permanent:

NLEC will close at 5pm, this poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Opposed To Licenses To Help Homeless

Homelessness is a problem everywhere around the world, though not at the same rates.

What’s even more surprising than the discrepancy in homeless populations between the two cities is the fact that Tokyo, at 13.4 million people, is larger than New York City (8.4 million people) and Los Angeles (3.9 million people) combined. While the rate of homelessness in New York is currently 67 for every 10,000 people, in Tokyo there is just one homeless individual for every 10,000 city residents.

Why the massive discrepancy in rates of homelessness between two of the most populous cities in the world?

As with most socioeconomic phenomena, there are a number of contributing factors. First and foremost, income inequality is a massive and growing problem in the United States, while Japan has historically had one of the lowest rates of inequality among developed countries. One principal measure of income inequality is the GINI coefficient, a measure from 0.0 (perfect equality) to 1.0 (perfect inequality). Recent surveys in the two countries found a GINI coefficient in Japan of 0.32, while in the US that rate was 0.41. However, income inequality can’t be the only explanation for Japan’s success combatting homelessness, especially considering that the country’s inequality index has actually worsened over the past few decades.

Where Japan is really surpassing the United States, instead, is in the social safety net it offers its citizens. (Think Progress)

Our safety net is full of holes, allowing far too many people to become homeless.

Richard Gere recently portrayed a homeless man.

Two hours of trying to find a place to sleep, trying to get identification to receive benefits.

Here are the results from the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree? St. Louis should require those giving food to the homeless to have a license?

  • Strongly agree 8 [18.18%]
  • Agree 4 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [2.27%]
  • Neither agree or disagreei 2 [4.55%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [6.82%]
  • Disagree 8 [18.18%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [34.09%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 3 [6.82%]

Nearly 60% disagree with requiring a license, I’m in the middle. Every day I pass the homeless and the criminals that prey on them, I often see a new person with a suitcase. A church group unloading baloney sandwiches from a trunk isn’t helpful as a warm meal indoors. Those doing so think it’ll help them after they’ve died, but I’d rather offer real help in the present.

I’ve helped two people who were homeless in downtown St. Louis. The first lived in a property I owned for over a year as he got a job and rebuilt his life. He’s remarried and they recently bought a home together. The more recent person is still struggling, but he was able to leave St. Louis a few years ago. I brought both food — fresh fruit. They’ve both been in our loft, guests for a home-cooked meal. It’s rare that I meet anyone on the street that I feel comfortable with inviting into our home.

The sight of crowds of homeless, and those who prey on them, crowding around a car/van must further lower the spirits of those in that situation. Of course, we don’t want anyone dropping dead due to starvation, but all of society would be better off if we improved our safety net and then improved our ability to get people off the street and into housing. It’s also cheaper.

But this is St. Louis, we don’t do what’s best. In June police drove into the park between Soldiers Memorial and the library to run off the homeless.

June 23
June 23
June 28
June 28

Like most parks downtown, this one no longer has any benches. No reason for anyone to be there.

Those newly on the street need to be housed quickly before they become accustomed to life on the streets. An overnight cot isn’t the same thing. This requires social workers. The license bill shouldn’t become law, but it would be nice if those who want to help took action to actually help. Volunteer at places that feed the homeless warm meals indoors, provide stable housing, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

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