Rice's campaign

Trying to figure out what the Rev. Larry Rice is up to doesn't take a rocket scientist. Rice is the founder and director of New Life Evangelistic center, based in St. Louis, which operates homeless shelters and other ministries. He wants the federal government to give the old federal building on Broadway to New Life to be used as a homeless shelter.

A flawed and unrealistic plan, along with widespread local opposition to his methods, has convinced the Department of Health and Human Services to reject Rice's request -- twice. Rice's response? Lawsuits.

Homeless shelters get first dibs on abandoned federal buildings. But there must be a convincing need before that happens. Rice's application proposes an unreasonable 22-county service area in Southeast Missouri and overestimates the homeless population, said an HHS official in his latest rejection letter.

Rice has already made up his mind to continue his legal campaign if his latest lawsuit doesn't get the results he wants. And what he wants is a free building. New Life has opened a storefront outreach center on Broadway whose numbers are a pretty clear indication that it doesn't take an entire federal building to meet the needs of the homeless in Cape Girardeau. Other community efforts also are addressing those needs.