The ‘NIMBY’ Cities Who Ban the Feeding of the Homeless

Chris Carrington

With the weather becoming more chilly and the season of goodwill rapidly approaching you would think that the homeless would be a high priority in the minds of the authorities. Well the good news is…they are. The bad news is the only aim the authorities have is to drive them out of town.

The ‘NIMBY’ Cities Who Ban the Feeding of the Homeless

Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida removed at least three people who were serving warm food to the homeless on Sunday.

From Russia Today:

In video footage from Sunday, three police officers arrive and interrupt the feeding program by removing 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, the Rev. Canon Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church. A chorus of protest erupts from the crowd and follows the officers as they take the men to their patrol cards – “Shame on you, arresting an elderly man!” someone in the crowd says. “The whole world is watching!” says another.

Then, a police officer explains to the men: “Basically you are going to be cited for serving to the community without proper accommodations. Everything is explained in here. This is a citation. If you guys continue to come out here you will face arrest.” (My emphasis)

The actions of the officers were prompted by a new law that bans the feeding of homeless people within 500 feet of residential properties. Feeding program organizers also have to ask permission from property owners of businesses etc, if the kitchen sets up near their property.

Fort Lauderdale is not the only Florida city to try and force the homeless to leave town. Daytona Beach also has the policy that sees them citing good samaritans who take to the streets. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported:

“The ordinance is there, so if we catch you, we’re going to cite you,” Police Chief Mike Chitwood said Thursday. “If you want to feed people, and you want to do a good, Christian act, we encourage you to coordinate with the social service agencies.”

In South Carolina a permit is required, requested and paid for 15 days in advance, if there is to be a ‘gathering’ of more than 25 people in public spaces. One organization, Food not Bombs would be forced to pay around $120 a week, on top of the cost of the food they distribute, in order to continue feeding those in need.

The National Coalition for the Homeless report that as of June this year 33 cities have policies which restrict, or ban food sharing schemes.

“Homeless people are visible in downtown America. And cities think by cutting off the food source it will make the homeless go away. It doesn’t, of course,” said Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless, based in Washington, D.C.

“We want to get cities to quit doing this,” Stoops said. “We support the right of all people to share food.”

You can read the latest report from NCH here. “Experts’ cite everything from food safety rules to perpetuating the cycle of homelessness, in order to remove the homeless from their streets.

A good example of this is Robert Marbut, hired by Volusia County, the area where Daytona Beach is located. He said:

In order to facilitate graduating from the street, programs must deal with mental/behavioral health, substance abuse, job training/placement/retention and life skills…Providing food in the parks, at street corners, at beaches and behind restaurants acts to exacerbate and promote homelessness.” (source)

While all the support mechanisms are indeed needed, he does not explain how to force the cities concerned to provide such support.

NBC report that Marbut has advised over 60 towns and cities, with a payment of around $6,000 from each of them. speaking to NBC he said:

“Give me a name of one person who got a job because they were fed. Feeding alone, or giving out clothing or camping equipment, does not address the core issues of being homeless,” Marbut said. “You don’t graduate from the street because you ate a Big Mac tonight.”

Marbut does not explain where the jobs are for these homeless people to graduate into. If the majority of those with homes and wanting a job can’t get one, who in the hell is going to hire someone with no fixed abode? Someone who can’t guarantee they will be able to wash every day? Someone who only owns the clothes they are standing in?

His opinion seems to imply that ALL homeless people are alcoholic drug abusers who have lost everything as a result of their habits, a view which is totally incorrect.

Tell the family who lost their jobs and their home that it’s their fault they now live in their car under a highway bridge, Mr. Marbut.

Tell the veteran who fell through the net when he got his leg blown off in Afghanistan that his homelessness is his fault, Mr. Marbut.

Banning decent, honest Christian charity is not the way forward in my humble opinion. These cities are what the British refer to as NIMBYS…Not In My Back Yard. They don’t care about homelessness, they just care that it doesn’t happen in their town.

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One Response

  1. Ltpar says:

    Sorry, no sympathy here. If the churches and people working to feed the homeless want to do their mission, they need to do it from their own facilities and not in the business district or adjacent to residences of a community. Having a bunch of vagrants hanging around on the streets in front of my business, impacting customers would make me very angry. Yes, we need to do something about the homeless issue, but it needs to be done in an organized and practical manner.

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