ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Offering a rare tour of his five-story New Life Evangelistic Center, the Reverend Larry Rice says there are no code violations or unsafe living conditions, which he fears the Slay Administration might allege to try to shut him down.
The impromptu tour came at the request of reporters, attending Rice’s latest news conference in which he alleged that the recent barricades placed by City Hall around his building may be just the opening salvo of a campaign to shut down his center.
“They’ve shown the misuse of police power,” Rice said, “At any time if they try to come in and say we’re condemning the building for some off-the-wall charges, we have attorneys standing by and we’ll get injunctions and fight it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. We have the right to reach out.”
On his way to a construction industry luncheon across town, Mayor Slay was asked if he is drawing up plans to close the New Life Center.
“There is no effort to shut them down at this point,” Slay said, “There is an effort to make sure that people know there are alternatives. It’s not good for anybody, certainly two-year olds, to be sleeping on the sidewalk.”
KMOX toured the top floor, where narrow, steel-frame bunk beds sleep up to 100 men at night. The room smelled of body odor and cleaning fluids. Workers say they mop the floor every day with ammonia.
There was no odor on the third floor where dozens of female homeless sleep nightly on more substantial and wider beds with wooden frames and head boards.
A tour of the bathrooms showed working showers, sinks and toilets — with one urinal on the men’s floor out of order.
Visible on the ceilings throughout were smoke alarms, which Rice says are all working and up to code.
Rice and City Hall have been at odds for years, but the friction has ramped up this spring and summer as the Slay Administration removed homeless from riverfront encampments, and police later arrested Rice as he attempted to set up a homeless tent city on a vacant lot at Interstate 44 and Vadeventer.
“I’ve been through six different Mayors,” Rice said, “I plan to be through a lot more.”