Homeless feeding ordinance protestors stage 'feed-in'

April 3, 2012 4:43:27 PM PDT
A proposal to regulate the way Houstonians feed the homeless has sparked a backlash among homeless advocates.

The city of Houston is scheduled to vote on the ordnance on Wednesday. It's already been watered down since it was first introduced but some people are still unhappy and that's why they protested on Tuesday.

In front of City Hall Tuesday, the homeless lined up for lunch. Sponsors called it a "feed-in" to protest a proposed ordinance that would regulate homeless feedings.

"We're not sure how the city is going to enforce it, how you get permission, what happens if you can't get permission -- there's still a lot of questions about it," said Mackenzie Moupin, who opposes the ordinance.

Those having lunch say they're worried about where they would get a meal if City Council tightens the regulations.

"The only thing I'm worried about now, they're trying to stop them from coming out and feeding us. And that's not right," said Terry Bagley, who's homeless.

sp Since its first introduction weeks ago, the proposed ordinance has been watered down significantly. The only major requirement is that groups get permission from private property owners before conducting a feeding.

Council members are sharply divided on the issue, which is supported by Mayor Annise Parker.

"I perceive this ordinance as trying to balance the rights and the needs that inhibit anyone from feeding the hungry," Parker said. "That's not how it's perceived by the homeless," one Houstonian replied to the mayor.

Property owners and residents on the city's near east end have pushed hard for the ordinance, noting unregulated feeding generates trash, petty crime and other problems.

"It's dangerous, lots of kids in the area, and with traffic driving around them, somebody might get hurt," said Hershel Donny, who supports the ordnance.

But those who staged the feed in vow they will continue the fight.

"But people need to eat, and it shouldn't be a crime to feed them," said David Kiatta, who opposes the ordinance.

A lot of strong feelings are present on both sides. The city's major organizations that support homeless activities say they approve of the watered-down compromise to the ordinance.


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