Letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor

June 25, 2013  Letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor The article entitled, “New Homes vs. No Homes” your newspaper did an excellent job of confirming the prejudices of many who see the homeless as African-American men who lack direction […]

June 25, 2013  Letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor

The article entitled, “New Homes vs. No Homes” your newspaper did an excellent job of confirming the prejudices of many who see the homeless as African-American men who lack direction and purpose and simply lay around and urinate outside. Not only has this done a further grave injustice to the African-American male but also to the homeless population at large.

The deeper sociological problems of why people, whatever gender or race they may be are homeless, were totally ignored in the article. Questions like where are human beings, regardless of their race, gender, or age supposed to go when they lose their homes remain unanswered. Should we be surprised that the police have to spend so much of their time interacting with the homeless when society expects the police officer to be the psychiatrist and social worker and transporter for all those who are now living on the streets? This is the end result of the deinstitutionalization of those with mental illness, along with government cut backs in areas such as drug and alcohol treatment programs along with other public assistance programs.

These questions remain: Where are individuals supposed to go if they do not have 1411 Locust to sleep at night? Where will the police refer the homeless to, along with the hospitals, the homeless service hotline, and a host of other good Samaritans who find the homeless all night long?

Not only did your article of June 24, 2013 ignore the large number of women, children, sick, elderly and handicapped that the 1411 Locust facility provides for each night, but you also failed to even mention that New Life Evangelistic Center is a church. It is a church which considers all human life to be of value and follows the mandates of scripture to provide for the homeless. As a church it has special protections under the U.S. Constitution to practice its faith according to the teaching of the scriptures. This includes the realization that the provision of shelter is a function of worship.

It is tragic to see how quickly the Post-Dispatch will ignore that part in its daily published platform where it says, “always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor” when it comes to defending the rights of the homeless. They are denied the right to be in the parks after 10 pm, take their bags into the library, sit or stand on the streets less they be accused of loitering, sleeping or using the bathroom.

New Life is fully aware that the problem of homelessness is a regional problem. For that reason it has even offered to give St. Louis County ground to build its promised shelter as well as challenge other counties and municipalities to provide for the homeless in their communities.

St. Louis City has been under a court order since 1985 to provide emergency services to the homeless. The emergency services mandated include a 24-hour shelter, with enough beds to adequately serve the population, and transportation. Because these services are not present, more homeless people are coming daily to New Life Evangelistic Center at 1411 Locust for help.

As a society of caring people we must see that 1411 Locust remains open to the hurting and homeless for many years to come.

Larry Rice
1411 Locust
St. Louis, MO
(314) 421-3020