ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–With Christmas knocking at the door, a local minister to the homeless says he’s seeing more “new homeless” and more “suburban homeless” looking for places to stay downtown.
“I’ve had people I’ve talked to that had PHDs,” said the Revered Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center, “A guy had a PHD in chemistry and he used up his life savings. People who owned businesses, people who are college graduates, there’s a lot of talent on the streets.”
Rice estimates 60 percent of the women showing up for help are first-time homeless, and 30 percent of the men are also new to the streets. This week he says he’s boarding 250 to 300 people a night, many migrating downtown from St. Charles county, Jefferson county and St. Louis county.
“They come from all over and what happens is somebody ends up homeless in St. Charles county or St. Louis county,” Rice said, “The police don’t know what to do with them. They don’t want to lock them up all night. Hospitals release them. They don’t know what to do with them. Church doors are locked. So, they end up coming here.”
Rice is calling on suburban churches to provide the service that county governments are failing to provide.
“Churches throughout St. Louis county, throughout Illinois, throughout St. Charles and Jefferson county need to start opening their door like they would for a tornado or an earthquake,” Rice said.