Green Room

Bans on feeding homeless facing backlash

posted at 8:19 am on March 10, 2013 by

You’d think this was a bad joke, but many cities have passed laws that ban or all but prohibit feeding the homeless.  Reason’s Baylen Linnekin has been writing about this for months, and now reports that the prohibitions are under attack from the courts … and from outraged citizens:

I mention Elijah’s selflessness and generosity toward me and these two men for this startling reason: While Elijah’s act of sharing food with me would be legal virtually anywhere in this country, his decision to feed the homeless men who ate with us could be illegal in many cities today. The reason for this dramatic discrepancy boils down to this fact alone: I slept with a roof over my head, but the others slept under the stars.

Such illogic has led cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Houston to ban residents from sharing food with the homeless and less fortunate. I called such laws “unconstitutional, discriminatory, and wrongheaded” in a column I wrote over the summer. They remain so.

But since I wrote that widely read column in June, I’ve noticed a welcome pattern emerging. These unjust laws are under attack.

Shortly after my column, in which I noted my support for a new ACLU of Pennsylvania lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia over that city’s ban, a federal judge forced Philadelphia officials to back down. …

In Chicago, for example, at least one politician, Ald. James Cappleman, recently tried to banish a Salvation Army food truck from feeding the homeless in his neighborhood. (At least his position, enraging as it may be, is consistent with the city’s larger stance against food trucks.) Soon, under pressure, Cappleman backed down.

In Seattle, city officials recently ordered the Bread of Life Mission, which had been feeding people in the city’s Pioneer Square for more than 70 years, to halt its efforts. Facing a backlash, city officials relented.

While Chicago and Seattle have scrapped such bans, other governments have been moving to protect the right of individuals and groups to share food with others.

Be sure to read it all (via Eve Tushnet).

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These laws have but one real purpose: To keep pushing the meme of dependency upon government, to take away the individual’s rights and supplant them with a government that will control your life from cradle to grave.

I’ve had a couple politician’s tell me that the real purpose is to drive the homeless out of the cities. That’s treating the symptom rather than the problem. However, that isn’t the real reason behind these laws.

Governments know that to stay in power they must expand their control. Citizens must NEVER be allowed to provide a service that the government can do. When the citizens get the idea that THEY can take care of themselves, then entire clssess of political animals will find themselves turned away from the public trough, forced to fend for themselves.

I hope this backlash turns into a wave of indignation and outrage. We need more of our fellow citizens to wake up and realize the monster that’s been created down to Washington.

TKindred on March 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM

So they are basically treating homeless people like they are unwanted pigeons.

Illinidiva on March 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

As good a place as any to spam this:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/08/a-bridge-in-the-climate-debate-how-to-green-the-worlds-deserts-and-reverse-climate-change/#more-81728
Bottom line: we are starving the poor by insisting that desert wastelands remain that way instead of being used for meat-producing herds.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Governments know that to stay in power they must expand their control. Citizens must NEVER be allowed to provide a service that the government can do. When the citizens get the idea that THEY can take care of themselves, then entire clssess of political animals will find themselves turned away from the public trough, forced to fend for themselves.

TKindred on March 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM

I tend to follow the rule, “Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity”. On that basis, I’d argue that rather than Govt actively seeking “control” as such (in this instance), it’s more of a general Leftist push to disenfranchise the individual from providing any goods or services unless those are first “certified” or “approved” by Govt.

In the beginning, I suspect all the thought that went into this issue was along the lines of Illinidiva‘s comment regarding treating the homeless as pigeons: “don’t feed them and they’ll go somewhere else”. But it doesn’t quite work that way, as we are seeing now, so I predict the next step will be to only allow “certified” vendors to provide food and related services to the homeless. Want to help them? Get a license from the City first. This is already happening en masse with the “war[s] against food trucks” that so many cities are fighting now.

Once upon a time, a bad food vendor would get bad publicity and be arrested without the City requiring them to be “licensed” or “certified” and treated as restaurants. But now, as regulation creeps ever deeper into every aspect of our lives (thanks to the Left’s notion that Govt knows better, and must always “guarantee” our safety), the default position of Govt is that food vendors of any stripe cannot be trusted unless an inspector is employed to police them.

This whole mentality seems to fly in the face of due process and the presumption of innocence, but don’t worry: we’re from the Government, and we’re here to help. Accept our help or be fined, and quit complaining already…

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

This is the first I’m hearing about this practice…and law. Where does legislation like this come from? Absolutely outrageous and disgusting. I’d like to see groups, shelters, and individual get arrested or fined for feeding the homeless. See how long this inanae restriction lasts.

So they are basically treating homeless people like they are unwanted pigeons.

Illinidiva on March 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

That’s as good a comparison that I’ve seen.

JetBoy on March 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Who am I to interject a CONSERVATIVE, vice libertarian PoV, but here goes. The homeless ARE like alley cats. If you feed them, more come…and like alley cats they are unsightly and annoying.

In the Philly portion it’s OBVIOUS this isn’t about limiting the individual’s freedom it’s about MAKING THE HOMELESS GO AWAY.

BTW, all you selfless libertarians, feeding the homeless…please do it YOUR neighborhood. Because if you do it in MY neighborhood:
1) You will attract more homeless to my neighborhood, and a nuisance; and
2) Be charged civilly and criminally, I pray for your actions.

I love how “libertarians” seem to have no problem making other people’s lives nastier, whilst ensuring their liberty.

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

That’s as good a comparison that I’ve seen.

JetBoy on March 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Yeah. When I read the headline, that is the first comparison that popped into my head. For instance, there are signs up prohibiting people from feeding the birds at Trafalgar Square in London. It seems that cities are equating buying a homeless guy a sandwich or giving them some leftovers with that.

Illinidiva on March 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

…Democrats hate the poor!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2013 at 2:11 PM

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

And where do you think they will go? They aren’t going to disappear. They are going to go somewhere or dumpster dive and become desperate. Most are homeless because they are mentally ill or drug addicted which no one is addressing. The cities usually run by DEMS are not going to let them starve. They are going to create another government program with job justification and more power to handle the problem thus driving out the private programs that are taking care of this already.

You want to take care of the problem – change the laws on the mentally ill.

melle1228 on March 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

…Democrats hate the poor!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2013 at 2:11 PM

This is only true outside of election years. Then they are sure to tell the poor that its the Republicans that have withheld food, and the LSM will play along.

Hammie on March 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM

The practice of banning the feeding of the homeless is to keep from maintaining a homeless population on the streets since they would move on if it were not possible to survive in their present location. I can understand that, but how can anybody actually pass a law to ban feeding the homeless regardless of the reasoning? That’s incredible. And to see it happening in Democratic strongholds reveals what liberals really think about the poor and downtrodden: they’re nothing but votes to them.

HiJack on March 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM

[Count to 10 on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM]

I very good place to put it though. I’d been hoping HA would focus a post on this serious issue, instead of all the NYT, LAT, and Politico miscellany. Maybe putting it in a bunch of comment sections will get their attention.

Dusty on March 10, 2013 at 4:17 PM

It’s good to see this backlash. I’m not enthralled by “feeding the homeless” like this, but there shouldn’t be laws against doing so and certainly not when it comes to doing it on an individual basis.

Dusty on March 10, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Actually, it’s the idea of protecting people from themselves that is at the heart of a lot of this.* We were discussing this in relation to doing a public event at church this morning. It was mentioned that to provide food publicly, you are required to specify which dishes go where on the table and at what temperatures they will each be kept. The rules are about two inches thick. SO, we don’t do “public” events – we do church events, to which members may invite as many guests as they like.

Where does legislation like this come from? Absolutely outrageous and disgusting.

JetBoy on March 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Good intentions, JetBoy, good intentions. They feel the need to save us from ourselves. Heaven forbid that a single homeless person gets a tummy ache, no matter how many were fed without apparent problem.

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Well, aren’t you special. The problem here, JFKY, is that it is a general restriction of your freedoms, as well as the charity’s. They don’t want you to be able to drop a couple of pizzas at the homeless shelter, either. You can have Domino’s deliver it directly, but you can’t take your leftovers. A catering company that has a last minute cancellation in many places is not allowed to take that food to the homeless shelter and donate it for a meal. They want control, JFKY, and they want it of you! And, if they have to make it harder and more expensive to feed a few homeless people to get it, that’s ok by them!

* Don’t get me wrong, the “get them to move along” attitude is also involved. But, the health restrictions have been around for a while now, ad even impact actual shelters and such.

GWB on March 10, 2013 at 4:42 PM

BTW, all you selfless libertarians, feeding the homeless…please do it YOUR neighborhood. Because if you do it in MY neighborhood:
1) You will attract more homeless to my neighborhood, and a nuisance; and
2) Be charged civilly and criminally, I pray for your actions.

I love how “libertarians” seem to have no problem making other people’s lives nastier, whilst ensuring their liberty.

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

We sure have gotten a lot of human slime washed up on HA’s shores lately.

katy the mean old lady on March 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

We sure have gotten a lot of human slime washed up on HA’s shores lately.

katy the mean old lady on March 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Do remember that is the poster who wouldn’t know an actual N@zi if one came up in a full-dress blackshirt uniform and hit him in his ugly face.

Yes, simply putting out food for bums is a bad idea. But a (Democrat) city making it outright illegal to feed the hungry outside of the ‘right’ channels is nothing short of HORRIFYING. That’s the kind of cr@p Charles Dickens wrote about 200 years ago.

MelonCollie on March 10, 2013 at 5:41 PM

TKindred on March 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM

.
I tend to follow the rule, “Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity”.

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

.
W R O N G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . this is government, we’re talking about.

There is NO well-meaning, non-malicious motive anytime government wants hands-on control, EVER.

That is AXIOMATIC.

listens2glenn on March 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Do remember that is the poster who wouldn’t know an actual N@zi if one came up in a full-dress blackshirt uniform and hit him in his ugly face.

.

MelonCollie on March 10, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Hey, I’m not crazy about overpriveleged whiny azzhats hanging aroud, but I deal with it.

katy the mean old lady on March 10, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Count to 10 on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Very interesting link.

TexasDan on March 10, 2013 at 6:34 PM

I have had a “homeless” chase me into my yard and attempt to enter my house. So now I bought a gate.

I have had a “homeless” throw a small manhole cover at me (thankfully, he was a bad shot). So now I don’t shop downtown.

I have had a “homeless” jump out of the bushes in the park at me. So now I don’t walk in parks.

Sorry, Ed, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. If you as an individual or a church want to feed the so-called homeless, do it in your own neighborhood. They are ruining mine!

For an explanation as to why, just google “Al-Anon + enabling”.

PattyJ on March 10, 2013 at 6:37 PM

GWB on March 10, 2013 at 4:42 PM

One local talk radio station advertises for help for the homeless shelter. Sometimes they advertise for “USDA inspected meat” or “USDA inspected eggs”. Nope, if you raise your own and have leftover eggs, for Gawd’s sakes, don’t offer to share to those in need. If your family is butchering, whatever you do, don’t set aside a few pounds to help.

cptacek on March 10, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

When dealing with Democrats, I am sorry, but they are malicious and arguing that the consequences they sow is just due to stupidity puts you at a disadvantage. Of course, they would love you to remain the useful idiot you are. It allows them to keep power.

astonerii on March 10, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Nope, if you raise your own and have leftover eggs, for Gawd’s sakes, don’t offer to share to those in need. If your family is butchering, whatever you do, don’t set aside a few pounds to help.

We still do in the outback area of Arizona I live in. County corruptocrats stay away for the most part. They would literally be taking their lives into their own hands hassling the residents about this. You just don’t enter a person’s land out here without permission especially if you are from the government.

I had a Squadron Commander in the Air Force who used to say when it came to discipline he shot first and took names later. Well the people out here actually will shoot first and forget about taking names and then bury the body.

chemman on March 10, 2013 at 7:08 PM

chemman on March 10, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Sure, we share with those we know. But I was talking about giving to an official food bank.

cptacek on March 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Very interesting link.

TexasDan on March 10, 2013 at 6:34 PM

I’m kind of hoping to get HA to notice it so that we can have a thread on it.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2013 at 7:49 PM

If you feed them they are just going to crap on the sidewalk. I would guess 80% are homeless because that is what they want…no responsibility, drugs, booze, living like a hippie. The need to get jobs and contribute to society in my opinion. I realize a portion is legit and I hope there is aid to get them back on their feet.

trs on March 10, 2013 at 7:59 PM

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

It’s not libertarian — it’s Christian.

unclesmrgol on March 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM

And to see it happening in Democratic strongholds reveals what liberals really think about the poor and downtrodden: they’re nothing but votes to them.

HiJack on March 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Malibu. That’s where the ‘keep ‘em out movement started. But it only spread a little — to Santa Monica.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5173512

unclesmrgol on March 10, 2013 at 8:15 PM

There is NO well-meaning, non-malicious motive anytime government wants hands-on control, EVER.

listens2glenn on March 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM

and

When dealing with Democrats, I am sorry, but they are malicious and arguing that the consequences they sow is just due to stupidity puts you at a disadvantage. Of course, they would love you to remain the useful idiot you are. It allows them to keep power.

astonerii on March 10, 2013 at 7:01 PM

To you both, I would remind you that governments are comprised of groups of individuals, just as are corporations. In either case, most people like to believe they are either “doing the right thing”, or else they are slothful because they can get away with it. In most cases.

For today’s lesson, I’ll start off with Lewis’ famous quote (emphasis mine):

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Accuse such people of tyranny and all you will get in return is their hardened resolve to redouble their efforts.

Now, consider a six year old boy who happens to be holding a loaded pistol. To the boy, it’s a “gun” like any other, something to point at bad guys and yell “BANG!”, followed up by, “you’re dead!” His motives are innocent and he’s just playing a game. But, of course, if you ignore the fact that in this instance, the gun is real and is loaded, the “you’re dead!” part will likely be just as real as the gun. So obviously you tread very lightly.

To go with the analogy, if you want to remove the “gun” from the boy, you don’t accuse him of being “bad” (a tyrant); rather, you go after the person who patted him on the head as they gave him the real gun to begin with: all the US Dept of Education sponsored teachers and curriculums that taught him from an early age how the most important thing in his young education was maintaining a high self-esteem at all costs, to the student aid-inflated salaried college professors who explained to him that Socialism really is great, and how he can best help the world by being the one who “gets it (that is, Socialism) right” this time around, unlike all those other times where Socialism failed.

You go after them, finding a way to decapitate the stronghold of State-sponsored training by killing off the US Dept of Education and killing almost all student aid programs.

But you never, ever accuse him up front of being a tyrant; rather, only when the proverbial “teachable moment” comes along and he figures it out for himself, do you then confirm it.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 8:42 PM

JFKY on March 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Private groups like The Salvation Army have been feeding and providing temporary shelter for homeless people for decades. As I recall, their continued help comes at a cost, which discourages those who only want to beg for food and not help themselves. It was the local government-run programs that attracted more and more homeless people. There’s a huge difference between private groups helping people get their lives back on track, from public groups who just want to “feed the homeless”.

Also as others have noted, the Left’s push to do away with insane asylums has added significantly to the homeless population; also I would add to this observation that lax enforcement of no loitering laws has also played a part.

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 8:50 PM

I really wish they would shut down lemonade stands, too! Save me, my precious Government!!1!!

John the Libertarian on March 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM

As good a place as any to spam this:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/08/a-bridge-in-the-climate-debate-how-to-green-the-worlds-deserts-and-reverse-climate-change/#more-81728
Bottom line: we are starving the poor by insisting that desert wastelands remain that way instead of being used for meat-producing herds.

Count to 10 on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Saw that yesterday and agree it should make the rounds. I wonder how the enviro’s who want everyone to raise fewer cattle and eat more plants will deal with it.

Mimzey on March 11, 2013 at 1:00 AM

Do remember that is the poster who wouldn’t know an actual N@zi if one came up in a full-dress blackshirt uniform and hit him in his ugly face.

OH I can recognize them….they’re the people who feel Hitler got the “bum” rap he has becasue he was a WHITE GUY…..

They like to call people “Zionist wannabe’s” and have NO problem admitting to them, that Zionist=Jew.

So, No I can tell my Anzi’s pretty well there, Meloncollie.

JFKY on March 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM

We sure have gotten a lot of human slime washed up on HA’s shores lately.

katy the mean old lady on March 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

You mean for saying that the mentally-ill, substance-abusing homeless, who are there mostly becasue of their own actions, will flock to free food? And then pointing out, that much of this free food is being handed out not from the Do-Gooder’s backyard, but someone else’s?

As to “Christian Duty” I believe Buddhists have an term, “Idiot’s Compassion”….when I help someone in their destruction I am NOT being “compassionate.” I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure that simply handing out food to the homeless ISN’T it…..

JFKY on March 11, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Wanderlust on March 10, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Lets see if I got this right. People are doing evil because their conscience tells them they are doing good. You then what? Tell them good job in order to accomplish what?
I am sorry, but as intransigent as these people are, there just is no way to write it off as misled kindness. Being PC is playing the game the created and using their rules which they change as needed in order to thwart you. But hey, you know, just lay back and take that raping, because a gun would not have helped you.

astonerii on March 11, 2013 at 10:23 AM

If the government gives away the food…it will have the same effects, and be expensive to the general public, and “respecting the rights” of the poor “served” by the government program will include avoiding any rules or qualifications that offer the poor any chance of changing their status.

Private charity often comes with some strings attached…like kicking the chemical habit…that offer the opportunity to straighten out.

krome on March 11, 2013 at 10:23 AM

So they are basically treating homeless people like they are unwanted pigeons.

Illinidiva on March 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

They are worse than pigeons. Pigeons don’t stink as bad. You know there is another name for “homeless” people – bums, and feeding them just keeps them hanging around, begging, harassing people, sleeping, pissing and defecating in doorways, just like pigeons, or rats if you prefer.

Even so, I am against the government telling people they have no right to be charitable and feed people. The government created this problem, partly by making institutionalization illegal, and the government will continue to make it worse – pretty much like everything the government gets involved in. The solution is to get rid of most government. Good luck with that, the voters have said they want more.

woodNfish on March 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

This silliness reminds me of Angela Prattis, who last summer was slapped with a $600 per day fine for feeding poor kids lunch, even though all meals were provided by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM

down here in Austin, the homeless use food to barter for drugs and alcohol, but apparently the exchange rate isn’t so good.

burserker on March 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM