ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–A Laclede Gas crew digging in the street struck a sprinkler pipe, sending water gushing in the street where Larry Rice was planning to serve Thanksgiving dinner to up to 400 homeless people.
It’s just the latest development in what has been a bad year for Rice. In April, City Hall forced him to close his New Life Homeless shelter at 1411 Locust–amid complaints it was a “nuisance property” with several building code violations.
Vowing over the summer to re-open by Thanksgiving , Rice realized that wasn’t going to happen, because of ongoing tussles with City Hall over code requirements, and a protracted court fight.
“They keep throwing one obstacle after another,” Rice said, “The latest is they want to call this a public bath house. They want signatures not only to sleep here at night, but now they designate this as a public bath house and say we have to get all the neighbors to okay that.”
Rice says the petition gathering process is hindered by the locked front door at a five-story loft next door. He can’t get in the building to make his case to neighbors.
This year marks the 45th annual Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter, and the first year they’ve been forced to hold it outdoors. Rice says he had obtained the necessary permission to block off traffic and serve Turkey and all the trimming to the homeless. And then came the broken water pipe.
“I thought, hey, we must be trying to really get through and help a lot of people, because we’re sure encountering some spiritual attacks,” Rice said.
Work crews were busy repairing the broken pipe in the street, and Rice says the party will go on. Rice says he’ll have two food trucks, free clothing and bus tickets for people to get home to their families for Christmas.