Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Neighbors Guarded in Greeting Rice's Camp; Advocate for Homeless Stakes Claim on Lot in North County

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Neighbors Guarded in Greeting Rice's Camp; Advocate for Homeless Stakes Claim on Lot in North County

Article excerpt

The Rev. Larry Rice's search for a place where the region's homeless can rest their heads landed Saturday in a north St. Louis County neighborhood that greeted the advocate and his cause with mixed emotions.

"I know everybody has issues, but we don't need extra ones," said Linda Lawrence, who lives next door to the empty lot where volunteers from Rice's New Life Evangelistic Center staked out a tent Saturday morning to shelter the homeless.

A neighborhood already plagued by burglaries, drug and alcohol abuse, she added, is not the optimum location to relocate the homeless.

"Putting them in a tent, with no running water or toilets or showers, is not helping them," Lawrence said.

Lawrence and other residents learned late last week that the property - which has stood empty at 3950 Lada Avenue, near Bel- Ridge, for as long as anyone can remember - has been deeded to Rice's ministry.

St. Louis County Police and county officials were on hand Saturday morning to advise Rice of the zoning ordinances guiding the use of the land.

The minister was informed that occupancy will be limited to three people, and not the 50 he'd hoped to temporarily house under the tent.

"Unfortunately, (Rice) has misinterpreted the zoning requirements," said Patricia Washington, a special projects manager in the office of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.

Rice also learned that portable toilets will not be allowed on the property until he secures the proper permits.

Rice said he would personally drive the homeless to toilet facilities until the permits are obtained.

He also vowed to continue working with the county to secure the clearances required to house the homeless on the property legally.

"I just hope we can have a meeting of the minds," Rice said.

Washington promised that the county would continue its efforts to help the homeless. But she said officials would keep a close eye on the Lada Avenue property to ensure Rice adheres to zoning laws governing occupancy in a residential neighborhood. …

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