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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

The Ghost of Larry Rice

The Reverend Larry Rice has been a controversial figure in St. Louis. For years he ran a homeless shelter and refused to cooperate with authorities, did not allow inspections, made religious conversion a requirement for admission, allegedly housed many more people than he was licensed for, and required residents of his facility to work for free on his farm. He also owns a radio station. Reverend Rice was a constant thorn in the nose of the establishment.

I argue that even more important, his work was a hinderance to homeless people improving their lives. I have a friend who is a former homeless person who said Rice actually enable homeless behavior and got in the way of people looking and preparing for jobs. I help serve lunch at Biddle House which is affiliated with St. Patrick’s Center. When Reverend Rice’s facility was finally shut by the city, we expected to find many more people coming for lunch. Actually, we did not. Our conclusion is that Reverend Rice never had nearly as many people living in his facility as he claimed. Rice has tended to be a popular figure with liberals because he thumbs his nose as the establishment. That support was a big mistake. Written by Paul Dribin

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2 thoughts on “The Ghost of Larry Rice

  1. I worked for KNLC-TV (Ch. 24) as a volunteer in the late eighties and early nineties. I also worked on Larry’s Winter Patrol in the mid-eighties to early nineties. While I can certainly find fault with some of what Larry did, I call into question one of your ugliest claims. To my knowledge, Larry did not require religious conversion to stay at the Center. He required people sheltering there to attend religious services if they were staying there when services were held. He also required that the t.v. there be on Christian programming at all times when it was on. While I question requiring that for a homeless population requesting shelter, his requirements were not to my knowledge as stiff as you’ve claimed. Also, your argument about his allegedly “enabling” homelessness sounds very much like an argument as I recall offered by John Locke that being charitable in a way such as giving someone a donation enables the habits which allegedly brought the person to poverty. People sometimes need immediate help to lift themselves out of a dire situation. So the way I see it, that Locke-ian argument is nothing more than a poor excuse for uncharitableness.

    • Steve thank you for your thoughtful comment. When I say Larry enabled homelessness I mean that he didn’t engage in any programs that helped get people out of homelessness. He made them work on his farm which was like slave labor. He also refused to cooperate with other homeless providers and government agencies including the census Bureau. He significantly over housed the population in his facility which was dangerous.

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