Target: Stephen H. Buxbaum, Mayor of Olympia, Washington
Goal: Let individuals and organizations feed the homeless, regardless of their group affiliation
Several major cities have implemented bans preventing private individuals and groups from feeding the homeless. Many politicians are trying to prevent people from sharing meals with the poor, believing that hunger goes away if we don’t see it or acknowledge it. These new laws are only making the hunger crisis worse.
In Olympia, Washington, lawmakers passed a new law that requires individuals and organizations to obtain an expensive permit in order to gather in public parking lots to feed the homeless, a response to Crazy Faith Ministries’ ongoing efforts to feed the area’s homeless in a local parking lot. City Council members say that shutting down their charitable operations will reduce “unwanted traffic” in the area. New laws are not put in place to reduce the amount of “traffic” at a mall parking lot during holiday sales, so this law is clearly discriminatory against those in need.
Individuals in other states are also being shut down from offering free meals to those in need. In Lafayette, Indiana, the owner of the Buttery Shelf Eatery had to stop giving free lunches away to hungry patrons on Thursdays because fellow local business owners began to sue him for the disturbance homeless visitors would cause. This was despite restaurant patrons and the local police force denying that there were ever any major disturbances. Sadly, the owner does not have the financial resources to fight his neighbors in court, so he has had to stop offering free meals to those in need.
In Los Angeles, lawmakers are currently trying to make feeding the homeless in public spaces illegal. The groups who currently serve large numbers of homeless people in parks and street corners would be severely fined and shut down if this law is passed. These attempts to prevent individuals and organizations with big hearts from giving to those in need are infuriating. Demand that lawmakers stop preventing people from feeding the homeless.
Dear Mr. Buxbaum,
Your recent efforts to stop Crazy Faith Ministries and other philanthropic groups from feeding the homeless and others in need is quite heartless. Public parking lots often sit empty, unused, a waste of tax dollars. The fact that organizations like Crazy Faith Ministries are able to meet those in need where they are, in a safe, public space to offer them food, is an incredibly noble use of public space. That you and your city council members believe this service creates “unwanted traffic” is offensive, and clearly does not get at your true intentions. The mall parking lot experiences unpleasant traffic during holiday sales, but no law is put in place in response.
Lift the law that forces organizations to pay a hefty fee to use public parking lots for charity. In taking money from these organizations, you are taking money from the poor, taking food out of the mouths of the hungry in your community. That money could be used to provide more food, but instead, if Crazy Faith Ministries is to continue their service to the poor, they will have to offer substantially less food in order to line your pockets with unnecessary fees to use public space. Stop this heartless practice and allow good-hearted people to go on helping others in peace.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Lujoma via Wikimedia