But let me help you with some perspective please. Each month, New Life provides over $180,000 in direct material aid to the homeless community. Taking into account the building and staff, should New Life be closed, the City of St. Louis would have to onboard the responsibility of providing over $2 million just to replace the existing service now being provided to the community. In ten years, the decision to close New Life now will automatically onboard well over $25 million to the city to serve the homeless. I ask you candidly, if the city of St. Louis itself ran its own homeless shelter on Locust Street, would this body be convening to consider whether to close it down?
New Life Evangelistic Center can be supported at www.nlecstl.org
Notwithstanding the constitutional issue that New Life is a church, I also offer a cautionary note that if New Life is closed on the basis of the proximity to redevelopment, then this body may be facing the exact same question to close Gateway 180 when the near north side development is underway, or close Sunshine Ministries when the bottling district is underway. This is no straw man canard. Every shelter near new development is on the firing line.
I wish also to direct your attention to the fact that New Life Evangelistic Center operates as a Disaster Relief Organization under the US Federal Stafford Act which created FEMA. This act accommodates New Life with various legal activities including the coordination with all emergency services including the City of St. Louis, and also provides federal activity for their real estate and building; and that it may be singularly unprecedented in US history that a city coerced the shuttering of a federally-recognized Disaster Relief Organization, especially one which annually delivery over $3 million in direct service to the homeless. I remind you that other Disaster Relief Organizations include the Red Cross, and that I doubt any one in the City of St. Louis would for a moment consider closing a homeless shelter and homeless transition programs if it was of the Red Cross. New Life deserves better than this present treatment. Do you know the horror which is brought into the souls of the homeless woman with her children, perhaps living in her car, or a friend’s couch, when she reads your placard posted outside New Life that you are considering closing this place. Can you feel her horror for her child. I ask, do the people living in the neighborhood condos feel her fear?
The truth is that New Life Evangelistic Center is now, and has for four decades been a stellar partner with the City of St. Louis in relieving the city of the burden of the direct care of the homeless and their transition into housing. In fact, over forty-two years, the city has been relieved from the burden of over $100 million as New Life has picked up this tab.
I propose that this is a learning moment for St. Louis: the City administration, the local residents, the visitors, local establishments, the Campbell House the Library and other cultural centers. This is a learning moment for those of the suburbs who may rarely frequent the city or the district in the area of 14th and Locust. This is a learning moment to face our better angels, to wonder whether that could be me one day (“oh, but for the grace of God go I”). This is a learning moment for the city and its community to work together, not to work apart. To work for equal solutions, to walk in the homeless’ shoes. I propose a more productive approach by forming a “Partnership for A City of Brotherhood”
I know the dilemma the city of St. Louis is dealing with. In a very real way, I feel their pain also in having to have this matter before them. But it gives me great pride to lend my name to support your evaluation of this matter – and to challenge this city and this region to accept the plight of the homeless and the institutions that serve them, and in particular the New Life Evangelistic Center, and work with an open heart, not a closed mind; to see a robust community which cares as much for its poor as it does for elegant parties on Washington Ave. At this moment, St. Louis, you have the opportunity, the blessing, to be magnanimous;
Madaket Growth and each of its companies donates 3% of our profits to community organizations serving those most in need, and we encourage other firms - and the whole community - to suppport New Life Evangelistic Center in continued service to the poor and the homeless.
MADAKET GROWTH, LLC
Christopher D. Desloge
St. Louis, MO
Christopher D Desloge
Christopher D Desloge