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Rev. Rice to Testify in Hearing Today on Homeless Shelter

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Men's quarters, top floor of New Life Evangelistic Center. Photo: KMOX

Men’s quarters, top floor of New Life Evangelistic Center. Photo: KMOX

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - After four weeks of hearings calling for the city to shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center, today the minister who runs the homeless shelter gets his turn.

Rev. Larry Rice has been accused of running a shelter that attracts the homeless to downtown.

“I believe that we should begin to start seeing shelters in St. Louis County and I’m going to be starting a lawsuit against St. Louis County based upon state law that each county should be taking care of its own homeless,” Rice said.

Rice is scheduled to testify before the Board of Public Service, which has the power to revoke the shelter’s hotel license. He told KMOX News last month that if City Hall does try to shut down his shelter, he will take the case to court. He argues that, as a religious organization doing what God has called him to do, New Life is protected by the First Amendment.

In testimony today, Rice will seek to blame downtown’s homeless problem on the negligence of surrounding communities.

“St. Louis County has to start taking responsibility, St. Charles has to start taking responsibility. Same thing with Jefferson County, Franklin County and particularly over in Illinois. They have to start taking care of their own homeless,” he said.

On consecutive Tuesdays over the past four weeks, opponents of New Life Evangelistic Center have told the Board of Public Service the shelter is a “nuisance property” and should be closed.

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