RFT readers sound off on the rift between Lucas Park loft-dwellers and Rev. Larry Rice's homeless shelter

NEWS REAL, AUGUST 7, 2008

Chow, Larry

I'll have the sarcasm over Rice, please: Those silly homeless people should just quit being homeless and move ["The People vs. Larry Rice," Chad Garrison]. After all, Andy Martello and Patricia Clark had no choice but to move into the "loft" area. If those obnoxious homeless people don't just disappear from the area, then perhaps we should grind them up into puppy chow for the pets of the loft owners. It's so unfair that Martello and Clark were tricked into moving into an area that had no homeless people, only to have these bums shipped in. Thank God for Larry Rice and his good work.
Tom, St. Louis, via the Internet

Be not heartless with the homeless: I find it disgusting that instead of solving the problem of homelessness, we are more willing to throw people out of the only place they have to live. I agree that Lucas Park can be an eyesore, and having relatives who have worked at the nearby library, know that the homeless who live in Lucas Park can be a hassle during the wretched St. Louis heat and humidity. However, the homeless residents, whether by fault of their own or as an unfortunate person caught in the horrible cycle of poverty, are people and deserve as many rights to a home, place to eat and safe haven as the residents who pay for nice apartments and condos in the area. I think a better effort would be to look for public grant money and create greater efforts to aid and volunteer in our community to both solve homelessness and beautify our community. Cleaning up is not synonymous with ending homelessness because the impoverished and homeless are not dirt we can sweep away. We can be a great city, but we must be willing to work together, not push each other aside.
Ken Homan, St. Louis, via the Internet

Get real, Mr. Homan: Your post almost made me shed a tear, Mr. Homan. It's now time to welcome you back to reality. This is not a question of solving the homeless problem or not. It will unfortunately never be completely solved, simply because some people don't want to transition back to traditional society.

To be clear, this is a twofold issue. First, about helping the homeless transition back to society in the best possible manner: Larry Rice's less than stellar reputation in the homeless-services community was alluded to in this article; however, this will soon be made crystal clear to the public at large and to our city government. I think most downtown residents are supportive of the homeless and their successful transition back to contemporary society. This thought is unfortunately lost on many who attempt to grasp the facts of this tender issue.

As a downtown resident and homeless advocate, I am sick and tired of this man who claims to be a godly minister and true advocate for the homeless. Any minister I know would work constructively with the social service community in best serving the interests of the homeless and also be sensitive to the community they reside in. This wolf in sheep's clothing does neither. Larry Rice will be exposed for what he truly is — a charlatan. The homeless and community at large deserve a more effective partner in the homeless service continuum. The time for sitting idly by has passed. The time for action is now.
David Goldstick, St. Louis, via the Internet

Spitting mad: Mr. Martello should be spat upon in public. Take away the homeless shelter and you'll have even more homeless people around your place, you jackass. And if you do succeed in doing this, well, maybe others will start to crowd the neighborhood, some of us who are openly hostile to yuppies like you, unlike the passive poor souls who unfortunately have to live next to people like you. Downtown was fine until the yuppies moved in.
T.D., St. Louis, via the Internet

The park is disgusting: It's so great to see all these suburban folks being so supportive of the homeless. Let's build a center out there where they can continue their support for them. I don't think anybody is denying that more needs to be done and programs put in place to help the homeless, but the 1411 location is a hole in the city and damages greatly what St. Louis is trying to create downtown. Tens of millions have been invested in restaurants and shops and even more for living. Most of us down here do not have the desire or dream of living out in boringland. So why cannot we take issue with a blight in our neighborhood? The park is disgusting, my girlfriend has been accosted on more than one occasion, and it is not getting any better.For the first time in a long time the City of St. Louis has actually seen an increase in population and that is due to the revived downtown. So I ask again, why cannot we remove a blight from an area? The vast majority of residents support the place being condemned. It would be great to just throw money at it, or build a better facility that can house the homeless 24 hours a day, but that does not exist. The place is disgusting, with the loitering, drinking and panhandling. The sooner the better, and the vast majority of residents downtown will not stop until the problem is gone.
Jeff Burkes, St. Louis, via the Internet

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