Homeless Holy Wars

The defiant Reverend Larry Rice infuriates big developers and city leaders over a proposed shelter in a downtown federal building

The firm spoke with St. Louis Department of Health supervisor Rich Robinson, who said the shelter has "occasional problems with rodents and general cleanliness that are common with food-service establishments in the downtown area." Nonetheless, Robinson reports that center personnel "work hard and do a good job of maintaining sanitary conditions."

"The City of St. Louis Building Inspection Department has no outstanding building safety violations on record for the Locust Street shelter," the environmental questionnaire states.

Troth notes that the property will revert back to the federal government if the shelter isn't maintained.

Before the sun rises, Jerad stands outside New Life's 
shelter on Locust, waiting for the taxi that takes him to 
school.
Jennifer Silverberg
Before the sun rises, Jerad stands outside New Life's shelter on Locust, waiting for the taxi that takes him to school.
In 2006 the L. Douglas Abram Federal Building will be 
up for grabs, and federal law says it must be offered to 
homeless providers first.
Jennifer Silverberg
In 2006 the L. Douglas Abram Federal Building will be up for grabs, and federal law says it must be offered to homeless providers first.

The DHHS still has to make a decision on Rice's application. According to the law, they have 25 days to make a determination on the completed application. But so far, the government has been firing back with more questions, many of the same ones that Breckenridge raises.

In a February 4 telephone call, DHHS informed New Life that they want more assurances of the ministry's financial capability as well as more detailed information on space usage.

Says a defiant Larry Rice, "They would like us to just get so frustrated that we give up. When I get irritated, it just causes more resolve to fight that much harder. They can try to intimidate all they want. Thank God we have the judicial branch."

Rice sits in his office behind a large, slightly banged-up brown desk. There's worn brown carpet on the floor, two green leather chairs that were stylish about 40 years ago and a wall filled with plaques that applaud his good works. In front of him is a pile of mail.

Some have written Rice about his decision to drop Joyce Meyer Ministries from his television station. Meyer is well known for her lavish lifestyle and claims that she's rich because God wanted her to be wealthy. Even though the decision cost New Life between $35,000 and $45,000 a month in revenue, Rice felt he had no choice. Others send mail about his bid for the Abram Building.

One person writes: "I admire you for dropping Joyce Meyer; disagree with your stance on the Opera House, but keep up the pressure -- good work!" Enclosed is a check for $100.

Correction published 3/10/04: In the original version of this story, we misspelled the name of the building at the center of the squabble between Reverend Larry Rice and developer Donald Breckenridge. The above version reflects the corrected text.

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