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Feds Say Rice Can't Have Abram Building


By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Federal officials Monday decided not to lease a surplus federal building to a St. Louis homeless advocate.

The Rev. Larry Rice wanted to expand his New Life Evangelistic Center into the Abram Federal Building downtown. But the Department of Health and Human Services said Rice doesn't have enough money, and St. Louis doesn't need more shelter beds.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is praising the decision.

"Warehousing 1,000 people in one place in downtown St. Louis would be bad not only for downtown and the city in general, it really is not a good idea for the homeless population," Slay said.

Rice's assistant Ray Redlich says federal officials bowed to political pressure.

"When we come to the point when we're totally filled up and we can't take anybody else in here, is St. Patrick's center going to take in those women and children?" Redlich said. "Is the mayor's office going to do something about it? Because they're the ones that are stating that there isn't such a great need."

Slay says the city will move forward with plans to turn the Abram building into a parking garage. The mayor says more parking is needed in order to reopen the Kiel Opera House across the street.