ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Reverend Larry Rice is still fighting to keep his downtown homeless shelter open in the face of continuing drug problems surrounding the facility.

img 3938 LISTEN: NLEC Fights to Keep Doors Open Despite Drug Issue

The Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center. Photo: KMOX

Rice continues to claim the city is purposely sending the homeless to his New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC) to create “controlled chaos” to get him to shut down.

Drugs have been an ongoing problem near the area, which gained the most attention last fall when more than two dozen overdoses a day, mainly from synthetic marijuana, were occurring.

Rice told KMOX’s Hancock and Kelly that some addicts have nowhere else to go when they are desperate.

“My heart is broken over it, more than anyone else. To see people get so desperate, so down and out they smoke this K-2 stuff, which is destroying their lives,” Rice says.

Rice is running for St. Louis Mayor as an Independent.

The city wants the New Life Evangelistic Center shut down by April 1, but Rice is appealing.

Listen to the full interview below:

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Comments (2)
  1. When someone who has found themselves homeless calls the city provided phone number, they more often than not will be told that there isn’t any room in another shelter. Many people also find that they cannot get through to talk to someone about getting into a shelter in the city. These same people will call or come to NLEC, which is an EMERGENCY SHELTER. NLEC accepts anyone who hasn’t been banned already. That person who had the door slammed in their face when they called the city’s number, is welcomed at NLEC. If a person finds themselves homeless in the middle of the night, they can come to NLEC.

    NLEC has several check-in times for those who find themselves homeless. The check-in times start at 3-4:30 p.m. for women and children, then 5-7 p.m. for the men. The second check-in time for women is 8 p.m. and the men have theirs at 9:30 p.m., and then there is the third check in. Furthermore, people who are brought to the shelter by the police or sent to the shelter by hospitals are allowed in when they arrive if it is after check-in times have ended. By then, NLEC is at capacity. People must leave in the morning at 6, so that the rooms can be cleaned, and the lobby can be set up to serve people later in the morning. At 10 a.m., the lobby opens up so that people can apply for assistance, visit the Free Store or talk to a pastor or caseworker. Those who stayed at the shelter overnight, can come back in at that time if they need to apply for assistance or they want to join one of NLEC’s programs. If they are not at NLEC for assistance, they are encouraged to go to other places to get the assistance that they provide or apply for jobs. They may take a class at St. Patrick’s Center, apply for jobs at the library, etc.

    Those who are sleeping outside on Locust every night either have been:
    *banned from NLEC for violating their rules
    *have a mental illness so they do not want to be inside of a shelter and have to deal with other people
    *would rather sleep outside so that they can smoke, drink or do drugs at their leisure instead of follow the rules of NLEC’s shelter or any other shelter in the city (or country for that matter)
    *don’t want to be separated from their significant other (women and men sleep on different floors at NLEC)

    Sunshine Ministries doesn’t have pressure or problems from the city or the citizens of the city because they are in north St. Louis. They have strict rules about drugs, alcohol, violence and mental health in their building and programs and people praise them for those rules. NLEC has strict rules about drugs, alcohol, violence and mental health in their building and programs, but NLEC doesn’t get the same praise. NLEC connects people with drug and alcohol problems to other ministries or programs in the city. They are not allowed to stay at NLEC. People with mental health issues are connected with caseworkers at BJC. People who exhibit violence are not allowed banned from NLEC.

  2. Please visit to find out more about NLEC’s programs and services.

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