NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KTVI)-The Rev. Larry Rice opened a new tent village for the homeless in an unincorporated north St. Louis County neighborhood Saturday morning. Residents in the area on Lada Avenue just north of Natural Bridge say they found out about the plans for a nearby vacant lot on Thursday via a flyer. St. Louis County said they found out on Friday.
According to St. Louis County records, the center has owned the property since July 2012.
Workers and volunteers from Rice's New Life Evangelistic Center unloaded gear at the lot at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. They spent time erecting tents for the new “Integrity Village”. Rice said he understood neighbors’ outrage, but the word “homeless” had become the new “N-word”. He accused county leaders of not doing enough to help their homeless, saying his downtown shelter was overcrowded with people from all over the metro area.
Pat Washington, with the St. Louis County Health Department, was also at the site Saturday. She said she wanted to make sure the new village was safe. She added that she wanted to know of any homeless St. Louis County residents, so that she could help them find services.
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On Friday, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley released this statement:
“We have received calls of concern from residents in the area about the tent city and will make sure that it does not violate County ordinances,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. “Homelessness is a serious issue that St. Louis County works hard to solve and regularly meets with representatives from the New Life organization as well as other homeless agencies to help address this problem.”