City of St. Louis squares off against homeless camp advocates

5:53 PM, Apr 20, 2010   |    comments
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By Sharon Stevens

KSDK -- The City of St. Louis and a group of homeless people and their advocates squared off over a tunnel on Tuesday.

City officials plan to demolish the passageway known to those who live there as 'Hopeville.' The people in the tunnel have less than a month to move.

The area is located just below Tucker Boulevard in downtown St. Louis; it was an old railroad tunnel. City Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff says the tunnel is no place for human beings.

"What we have here are really inhumane conditions," Siedhoff said. "I find it shameful that Reverend Rice would actually direct people into conditions like this."

The Rev. Larry Rice of New Life Evangelistic Center is the tunnel group's biggest advocate. He wants city officials to give an acre of land to the founders of 'Hopeville' at least until they can find better accommodations.

Rice says the city should have provided information to help the homeless find help.

NewsChannel 5 talked with one of the residents of 'Hopeville,' who says settlers have made the tunnel a livable place with rules and its own security.

"If you want to help, do more than just badger us or talk down to us like all we want to do is just beg for what we want, ask for what we want," said Johnetta Darden.

The city says the people have to be out of the tunnel by May 17.


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