Truth to Power

Against the law to help the homeless?

Government Stopping Charities From Feeding The Homeless

The National Coalition for the Homeless has issued a report detailing laws and ordinances in a couple of dozen localities across the nation that prohibit charities – churches, civic organizations, charities, etc. – from feeding the homeless. Or, at least, inhibit their ability to do so with burdensome regulation.

Some examples:

– Gainesville, Florida began enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day.

– Phoenix, Arizona used zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to community members, including many homeless people, outside a local church.

– Myrtle Beach, South Carolina adopted an ordinance that restricts food sharing with homeless people in public parks.

This seems like lunacy to me. There are people who are destitute and hungry. There are other people who are willing to give of their own time, talent and wealth to provide for those people. But the government is limiting their ability to do so, or in some instances stopping them.

Why? The motivation is hard to pin down. One chief motivation, no doubt, wanting homeless people out of parks and public areas. They believe that feeding them in a public place like a park only lures more homeless to that park. And some people just don’t want to see homeless people during their day-to-day lives. It’s the old “not in my back yard” attitude.

But I think another motivation may well be that the government hates competition. Rather than allowing private charities like churches, etc. do their own part to feed the homeless I think the government would much rather homeless get help through government-sanctioned, government-funded, government-administered social programs.</em>


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