ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Two months after City Hall forced him to close the downtown homeless center, Reverend Larry Rice says he hopes to re-open as an overnight shelter in the Fall.

Attorney Todd Lubben of Brown and James represents New Life Evangelistic Center. He’s appealing a circuit court ruling that says the shelter can’t re-open unless surrounding neighbors sign a petition of support.

“First and foremost, they’re a church and this is tantamount to telling a church, ‘You have to go out and get your neighbors signatures in order to practice your religion.'” Lubben says. “When you use religion to help people. There’s no dispute about that.”

Rice says he’s been getting the run-around from City Hall on what exact repairs are needed to re-open. He’s installing a fire sprinkler system and making other improvements to bring shelter up to code.

“We definitely want to be in here before Thanksgiving,” Rice says. “Be able to have our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in here. Be able to be in here during the cold weather. Be able to provide for the people that are hurting out there.”

He says the need is critical. Rice adds there are services they were providing that the homeless have not been receiving since their closure.

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