Illegal to Feed Homeless

The recent arrest of Arnold Abbott, a 90 year man in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, for the crime of feeding homeless people in a public area has again brought to public attention the movement of recent years to restrict programs designed to aid the homeless. Indeed, there seems to be a sentiment among some groups to revive the concept that being poor or homeless is a criminal act and poor people should be jailed or forced into prison labor camps. Of course, police are occasionally known to jail homeless people during bad weather or when that is the only way to get them into a shelter, but this is more like a scene from a Dickens novel, a true slow burn or slow venture to not allowing people to become humanitarians anymore.  Not being allowed to help one another.

It is interesting to contrast such a concept with the attitude in cities such as Knoxville, TN where homeless and street people are treated with a great deal of charity and with programs designed to help address the problem of homeless and needy people as a problem of need to be met with compassion, rather than as a criminal problem. Knoxville is one of twenty cities nationwide that is participating in a Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Seilar ignored the fact that when such sites can be found they are frequently at inconvenient locations. In addition, many street-people can only be reached at outdoor sites. This is one of the reasons that many feeding programs seek outdoor feeding locations. Knoxville programs include midnight food hand-outs from a truck for homeless teenagers in the historic Old-City district and a similar daytime program under an overpass a few blocks from two other major indoor feeding programs.

One response on “Illegal to Feed Homeless

  1. It should be noted that the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale, Jake Seilar, tried to apologize by saying that they should have tried harder to get Arnold to restrict feeding homeless people to approved indoor sites. It is really a way that will have to keep these going on and on for them.

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