Have no doubt about it. It's war, and a new front has opened in Los Angeles, as the New York Times reported yesterday:
Facing an uproar from homeowners, two members of the Los Angeles City Council have called for the city to follow the lead of dozens of other communities and ban the feeding of homeless people in public spaces.
It's a war fought with the noblest of intentions - to keep the homeless out of sight and out of mind.
Tom LaBonge, one of the two City Council members who introduced the resolution, said food lines should be moved indoors, out of consideration to the homeless and neighborhoods... "When dinner is served, everybody comes and it's kind of a free-for-all."We know that providing food to the homeless only exacerbates their problems. If they eat, they have to defecate...
Peter Nicoles, the founder of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch said...If the public is not willing to provide bathrooms, washrooms and beds for the homeless, then no one can be allowed to feed them. Because. Logic.
"While it sounds good in concept - I'm going to pull up to a curb, I'm going to feed people... well, there are not restrooms... Can these people get a place to sleep? To clean up?"
Sometimes those who wage this war wrap themselves in the flag of compassion (without providing any means for betterment). Then again, as in Hayward, CA, just a homeless person's walk south from Oakland and where feeding the homeless recently became illegal, sometimes not:
The new rules are not intended to solve the problems of homelessness or hunger, but to help resolve a problem downtown and make it a more attractive destination, Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said.She inadvertently left off "for the one percent." from her declaration. That's okay. It was understood.
"Our primary responsibility is to guarantee public safety and quality of life," Halliday said.
There are even those whose animosity towards the homeless goes beyond keeping them out of sight. In Albany, California, it's homeless population of seventy has resided for ten years on the Albany Bulb - a landfill that juts out into San Francisco Bay, far away from Albany's residences and businesses. Yet Albany's City Council decided that the Bulb residents must go, so that the wild and beautiful parkland can be turned into... a tame and stolid park.
In Philadelphia, advocates for the homeless won an injunction in federal court blocking a law there that would have banned food lines in public parks.And in Berkeley, CA, an anti-homeless ordinance was narrowly - narrowly! - defeated in November of 2012.
But in the main, the homeless have few weapons and few powerful allies. There is now
...a roster of more than 30 cities, including Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., Seattle and Orlando, Fla., that have adopted or debated some form of legislation intended to restrict the public feeding of the homeless, according to the National Coalition of the Homeless.
There are any number of organizations that feed the homeless and the hungry. I salute them all. To those who want, for seemingly good reasons or for the slimiest of reasons, to force these groups to find indoor space, or pay fees, or be restricted to once a month or rarer feeds, or advocate laws that prohbit the sharing of food in public, I do much worse than fart in your general direction.
Today, one such organization, Food Not Bombs, will be feeding the homeless and needy on the steps of the downtown Berkeley Post Office at 5:00 PM, along with Occupy Oakland peeps and Berkeley Post Office Defenders. If you're local, come on out and bring a bit of something to share.