Urge City to Stop Abusing the Homeless

Homeless Man

Target: Houston City Council

Goal: Repeal the city’s harsh homeless feeding ordinance and implement policies that better aid and protect homeless individuals

Recently, James Kelly was ticketed by a police officer in Houston, Texas for trying to find something to eat in a trash bin near Houston City Hall. Because of a city ordinance dating back to 1942 stating “molesting garbage containers” is illegal, dumpster diving has been labeled a crime in Houston. As a result, homeless people simply rifling through garbage bins and dumpsters for food can be ticketed and penalized by the city’s police.

In 2012, Houston lawmakers passed stringent new policies for groups trying to feed the homeless. The homeless feeding ordinance makes it a crime for any group or individual to give food to more than five homeless people in the downtown area without first obtaining a permit from the owner of the property where the food is served. The ordinance also requires permission from the city’s government before serving food in city parks.

Cities throughout the United States are trying to crack down on what is perceived as “homeless behavior,” and these efforts unfairly punish homeless individuals and families. By making it harder for those in need to feed themselves, Houston is chasing homeless people out of the city and leaving them with few resources. These policies do not solve homelessness; they make the lives of homeless people more difficult and unfairly criminalize them just for trying to eat food that would otherwise be left to waste.

Policies that effectively provide resources to homeless people and ensure their safety should be favored over policies that criminalize and punish “homeless behavior.” The homeless feeding ordinance makes it too difficult for organizations and individuals to provide food to the homeless, and the policy should be repealed.

Sign the petition below to reach out to Houston’s lawmakers and get the city to stop cracking down harshly on homeless people.


Dear Houston City Council:

The city’s feeding ordinance makes it unnecessarily difficult for groups and individuals to provide food to Houston’s homeless population. Because it harms homeless people and makes it harder for them to find food to eat, the ordinance should be overturned.

The 1942 city ordinance that bans tampering with trash downtown similarly punishes homeless people for trying to feed themselves. The outdated ordinance should also be overturned and not enforced. Houston police should stop ticketing people for rummaging through trash and removing food that would otherwise go to waste.

Policies that criminalize and punish homeless people should be replaced with policies that actually seek to address causes of homelessness. Making it harder for homeless people to find food only exacerbates the problem. I urge you to embrace solutions that will help the homeless instead of forcing them away.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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64 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • sheila childs
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • jeff hopkins
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
  • Frédérique Pommarat
  • Marianne Oelman
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