ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Advocate and New Life Evangelistic Center owner Rev. Larry Rice is hosting a “night out with the homeless” Friday, an all-night event to draw attention to the sleep deprevation many homeless people face in St. Louis.
From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Rice, volunteers, and several homeless people will be at the corner of Interstate 44 and Vandeventer Avenue.
Rice says it is unfair that the city doesn’t allow the homeless to sleep in parks or on the sidewalk when shelters are full.
“We live in a society today that people don’t have a right to participate in what a third of their life is spent for and that is to sleep,” he said. “If you don’t get adequate sleep, your brain can’t function right, your memory can’t function right, you get increasingly depressed, you become dizzy. You just can’t function.”
Anyone can participate in the event. Rice expects about 100 people will show up to experience what it’s like to spend a night outside in the cold without sleep.
“You can own your own building but if you own it and try to sleep on it, you get arrested. You sleep on the sidewalk, you get arrested. If you stayed in the parks after 10 [p.m.] you’d be arrested,” he said.
With New Life Evangelistic Center at capacity each night, Rice says there aren’t enough places for homeless people to sleep and hopes to brainstorm ideas tonight at the event.
Rice is currently locked in a fight for the survival of his downtown homeless shelter. In response to a neighborhood petition drive complaining of homeless people loitering, fighting, urinating in public, and committing crimes, the seven-member Board of Public Service is holding a series of hearings to consider revoking Rice’s hotel permit.