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ArchCity Defenders and SLU Law Sue St. Louis City for Warehousing the Homeless in Uninhabitable Makeshift Shelter

March 31, 2017

City Plans to Relocate Approximately 150 Men to Forestry Division’s “Weed Control” Building

St. Louis, Mo. (March 31) – ArchCity Defenders and Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinic have filed a class action lawsuit in state court against the City of St. Louis for warehousing nearly 150 homeless men in an uninhabitable temporary shelter, as a result of the self-created crisis following the closure of Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC). The warehouse, owned by the City and operated by the Forestry Division is the “St. Louis Weed Control” building located in the Carr Square neighborhood downtown.

After weeks of City officials dodging questions, ArchCity Defenders learned late yesterday afternoon of the City’s plan to warehouse people in a garage intended for forestry, gardening equipment, city-owned vehicles, and hazardous materials. The City’s plan to eliminate the number of beds and warehouse the poor without adequate shelter or necessary access to basic services such as water or restrooms, violates Section 205.580 under Missouri law.

“Warehousing 100 men experiencing homelessness in a garage away in a low income community of color is not a solution.  We can do better and given how many years the City of St. Louis has planned to shut down NLEC, we should have done better,” said Thomas B. Harvey, ArchCity Defenders Executive Director.

“The City has a duty to provide the poor with adequate shelter and basic needs, such as food, safe and secure shelter, and access to restrooms,” said Brendan Roediger, Associate Professor and Supervisor at SLU Law Legal Clinic.

In the past four years, the City allowed NLEC, a private agency, to operate in violation of state statute. Given the likely immediate closure of NLEC, the city’s largest homeless shelter, and the immediate and irreparable harm that would come to warehousing 100 to 150 homeless men, attorneys worked through the night to file the lawsuit as well as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the relocation.

A hearing has been set for 3:30pm on Friday, March 31st.

A copy of the lawsuit is here, and a copy of the TRO may be found here.


Media Contact:
Z. Gorley, Communications Director at ArchCity Defenders