Larry Rice Plans to Open Homeless Camp Along I-44
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – South city residents are livid after learning Reverend Larry Rice plans to erect a tent for the homeless near the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Reverend Rice and his group are planning to open a homeless camp along Interstate 44, though city lawmakers have said, ‘no.’
The two acre-spot at Vandeventer and I-44 was dedicated as “Integrity Village” Monday morning, despite strong opposition from the city.
During a news conference Monday, Reverend Larry Rice, pastor of New Life Evangelistic Church announced he leased the two acre site for a year after St. Louis city leaders shut down two homeless camps near the Mississippi river. “We’re not going to let Mayor Slay or Mr. Bill Siedoff drive the homeless back to the downtown parks and have the police work around the clock driving them out of parks and pushing them from place to place,” said Rice.
City officials call the “Hopeville” situation a badly failed experiment. They say their use of federal money to put those evicted into permanent homes is a far more effective way of dealing with the homeless problem here. But the New Life Evangelistic Center says the city is grossly underestimating the problem and under-serving the homeless community.
Ninetenth Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis, a fierce homeless advocate accused Rice of making a political statement and using people in desperate need of help.
“It is wrong on every level of humanity. It is wrong. I’m going to do everything in my power to help the people who show up here,” she stated.
Rice told residents Integrity Village will be more like a religious ministry with prayer services and rules prohibiting drugs and alcohol, but that did little to ease their concerns.
Rice plans to erect a tent and hold his first prayer service on the site Wednesday at noon.