New Life Homeless Shelter Packs Up For Shutdown

Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – There’s nothing to stop Saturday’s city-ordered shutdown of the New Life Evangelistic Center after a judge refused to intervene.

Judge Joan Moriarty declined to issue a stay, letting stand an order from St. Louis City Hall that the longtime homeless shelter cease operations April 1.

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Crowds mill outside the New Life center, which had been sheltering some 200 a night. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

The Rev. Larry Rice says he will appeal the city’s order, but admits the legal fight could take years. At issue in the dispute has been whether the New Life center at 1411 Locust has become a “nuisance property” unworthy of a city occupancy permit.

Rice maintains the city’s shutdown order violates the center’s Constitutional rights as a religious organization, but that fight will have to play out in court after the shutdown.

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The Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life center picks a few books from his office shelf to take with him amid packing. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

Workers scurried about the halls of the shelter Thursday carrying out bookcases, desks and copy machines — the workings of the organization’s administrative staff, which will be moved to a site in Overland.

Rice says the Saturday closure means some 200 homeless he shelters nightly will be out on the street, but the Slay Administration has promised to find temporary shelter for them.

An independent candidate for city mayor in Tuesday’s election, Rice says he will “live on the streets” and “sleep on the sidewalk” outside his shelter between the shutdown and election day.

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Rice chats with staff about transferring operations of KNLC TV Ch. 24, which operates in the shelter. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

Rice says the Saturday shutdown will also stop him from producing local programing for his TV station on site, Channel 24. Rice says the station will remain on air with pre-recorded programing until a new studio can be set up somewhere.

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