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St. Louis County Could Be Possible Site For New Homeless Shelter

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI)– A new homeless “tent city” has popped up near the Arch grounds.

A plan for a new homeless shelter has just popped up, too; not downtown; not in the city;  but in St. Louis County.

Two vacant lots in the 3900 block of Lada off of Natural Bridge near Bel-Ridge have been donated to Reverend Larry Rice and the New Life Evangelistic Center.

He wants to donate them to St. Louis County for a new homeless shelter.

He announced his plan with about a dozen homeless women, outside St. Louis County Executive, Charlie Dooley’s office.

The group said a prayer, believing part of the answer to their prayers was already at hand: the deed to the 2 lots.

Rice had it with him.

He said he was ready to that deed and give the land to the county, provided the county uses it for a homeless shelter for about 30-40 women and children.

“It’s very dangerous.  I’m coming from Florissant and living downtown, trying to commute this far.  So I would love to see a lot more shelters built out there for women,” said Michelle Blackmon of Florissant, who is currently homeless and staying at the New Life Shelter in Downtown St. Louis.

“It won’t solve the total problem, but it you want to open it for women and children there, we’ll find another site for homeless men somewhere,” Rice said.  “We have to do something, immediately.  Unbelievable pressure is being put on us with so many, many, people who are coming to us downtown…it’ll be (The County’s) shelter.  We’ll help them whatever way we can.  But there’s no strings attached. “

That new tent city is beneath the ramps for the Poplar Street Bridge.

As with the “Hopeville” homeless camp near the Riverfront last year, city officials have ordered the new tent city removed by mid-June; arranging temporary housing for those in the tents, most of whom told Fox 2, Tuesday night, they’d move on before then.

“They want to take that community down too.  Anytime the homeless lay their head somewhere, they’re constantly told go somewhere else.  Where are they supposed to go?” Rice said.

“Why not use the land it’s just sitting there,” said Vaughn Spivey, who lives across the street from the property on Lada.

He said he’d been homeless and living in his car within the past year after a knee injury and surgery expenses forced him to drop out of St. Louis University.

“I would go over and help and provide my time because I know what it feels like.  It’s a horrible feeling to be homeless, especially as an adult.  It’s a big character-killer… everybody needs somewhere  to stay.  Having somewhere to stay is a blessing.  Even if it’s across the street, I wouldn’t mind it.  It’s not bothering me at all.”

“It’s free.  The best thing to do is free.  Can’t beat free,” said Candace Fox, who is homeless.   “There’s no place for us to go.  The women and children I see coming to new life evangelistic, it’s heartbreaking. “

Dooley has made a commitment to do something to address homelessness in St. Louis county.

A spokesman said county leaders will certainly listen to any proposal.

Rice plans to present this one at the County Council meeting next week.

Email: Andy.Banker@tvstl.com

Follow me on Twitter:  AndyBankerTV

Facebook:  Andy Banker on Fox 2

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