Attorneys Argue That Larry Rice's Homeless Shelter Should Be Shut Down

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Attorneys for a group of downtown residents argued on Tuesday before a city board that the Rev. Larry Rice's New Life Evangelistic Center homeless shelter should be shut down.

The city's Board of Public Service began a series of hearings to decide whether it should revoke the center's hotel license, which allows it to be a shelter.

A group of downtown residents who live nearby filed a petition to remove the New Life Evangelistic Center, which has been open since 1976. The petition alleges the center, on Locust Street, is "being operated in such manner as to constitute a detriment to its neighborhood." The petition cites loitering; littering; drinking in public; lewd and indecent conduct at the shelter and around it by people who frequent the facility; drug use and sales; and intimidating behavior and noise.

No opening statements were made on Tuesday. Attorneys largely wrangled over verification of petitioner signatures, as well as legal procedures.

Elkin L. Kistner, a lawyer representing the downtown residents, questioned Lt. Dan Zarrick, an officer with the St. Louis Police Department, who testified for most of Tuesday afternoon.

Zarrick testified that problems with the homeless took up most of his time, detailing issues of drug transactions and prostitution in the area surrounding New Life. He said that in one instance he witnessed what appeared to be someone performing sexual favors in return for drugs in front of a nearby school. …