Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Annise Parker’s Ongoing Legislative Barrage On Houston’s Homeless—Isn’t The Dignity Of All People Connected?

For the third time in recent months, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council are considering regulations directed at homeless people.

From the Houston Chronicle

“Mayor Annise Parker is asking the council to adopt rules that would require organizations and people who feed the homeless to register with the city, take a food safety class, prepare the food in certified kitchens, serve only at three public parks, and leave those parks as clean as when they entered them…Councilwoman Helena Brown agreed and praised the speakers from groups who serve meals on the streets, telling them she hoped they’ll “have the freedom to do that and you don’t have to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, I have to go visit City Hall first…”It’s kind of strange and ironic that they want to stop help. We have actually been called to do this, to help those in need,” said Edward J. Sweet Sr., Strait & Narrow’s bishop. “It’s kind of sad that they would want to stop different organizations who are trying to make a change.”…If adopted, the feeding rules would mark the third time in nine months that the council has acted to contain the city’s homelessness problem, which by some estimates has 13,000 people living on the street. Last July, the council expanded the area where it is illegal to sleep on the sidewalk per the city’s so-called civility ordinance. The next month, the council forbade panhandlers from coming within eight feet of patio diners…Parker said in her inaugural address in January that making progress on homelessness would be a priority of her second term. Her administration pitched the rule changes as a way to protect the homeless from food poisoning and allergies, although opponents insist there is no evidence to suggest any health threat from donated food.”

This item will be considered again on March 21. Thanks to Councilpersons Helena Brown and Wanda Adams for delaying this issue so there can be more public attention and debate.

Here is the press release from the Mayor’s office on this issue.  

Is this how Mayor Parker feels she can best meet her inaugural pledge to help the homeless?

The way we help the construction of soccer stadiums and of so-called arthouse movie theaters in Houston, is to give them millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

If you feel that these are good projects for Houston, why not also allocate resources to help those most in need in our city? Wouldn’t that be a good investment as well? How does a Sundance movie house merit more concern than do human beings out on the street?

Are we supposed to believe that three council initiatives directed at the homeless in a nine month stretch are about making the lives of the homeless better?

Mayor Parker has quite correctly spoken up in recent weeks about full rights in our society for people who happen to be born gay.

I don’t assume Mayor Parker holds these beliefs for the rights of gay folks because she is a lesbian.

My assumption is that Mayor Parker sees the rights and advancement of all people as connected. This is the underlying logic of any civil rights cause.

Yet Mayor Parker appears to view one segment of our population as meriting an extraordinary series of restrictive ordinances.

Not worthy of government subsidy in the fashion that Mayor Parker rewards multi-million dollar private enterprises with taxpayer dollars, and seemingly outside her conception of who merits full concern as an equal human being in our great City of Houston, the homeless find themselves under legislative and legal assault by Mayor Annise Parker and our Houston City Council.

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March 8, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Neil – its been a while since I have had a chance to peruse your blog. I can always count on you to have something I can add a few words to. I know in the UTOPIAN society you dream of, everyone has the house and white picket fence. But you and I both know that’s not realistic. So here in the real world you would at least like to see everyone have a place to sleep, bathe and feel safe. I don’t like seeing homeless people either. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But why do you feel the government should be burdened with making the live of the homeless “better”? And by the government, I mean us as society who pay money to support the government which already supports too many NON PRODUCTIVES.

    The stadium and theater projects you mentioned will earn the city income by attracting outside revenue. Those are called investments – capital used to earn more capital. Building a homeless shelter to house those who for some reason could not be responsible enough to maintain their positions in society will not bring a dime to the city. In contrast, it would cost the city millions of dollars to maintain housing, staff (which you would think they could hire one of the homeless to run it, but that’s not how a bureaucracy works), provide food and then also carry insurance so a homeless person doesn’t sue the home for food poisoning when they under cook the chicken cutlets on Tuesdays.

    Why don’t you show the rest of Houston how a true Liberal can impact the world and go pick up one homeless person and take them into your house. Let them sleep in your garage, guest bedroom or move out of the master and give it to them. Feed them and provide them with water and soap and all the amenities that you can. Blog about that and share your experiences with us all and show the rest of us what we should be doing.
    Keep a running track of your expenses too so we can know how much each homeless person costs per month.

    Comment by Mike | March 8, 2012

  2. Mayor Parker is absolutely right. there are already systems in place to help the homeless. Star of Hope for example. Yet these charity groups from the suburbs come in so they can feel good about themselves. And every time they leave there is a large mess left behind in downtown and midtown for the residents to deal with. where do these homeless use the restroom when they are done being fed? the streets.

    If you want to help the homeless don’t give them money or food, give the directions to the star of hope. feeding them in the street just makes the situation worse for the homeless and the residents.

    Comment by Clinton | March 8, 2012

  3. Mike—Glad to have you back.

    I don’t feel that the homeless are “non-productives” in the sense that you may mean it here. I think they are people with many problems. Many are likely veterans. I’m not an expert on the homeless. I don’t know what governmental efforts would put them in a position to find work. What I do know is that we do not have to come after them with law after law. I also feel that people merit a helping hand towards work in just the same way we appear to have endless millions for private concerns.

    Your support for the soccer stadium and movie theater projects seems like the underlying reasoning for Congressional earmarks. Some even call it socialism. Since you support this type of government intervention—as I also do in some cases—than why not also support greater investement in human capital?

    I’m not going to take a homeless person in my home. I give a fair amount of my earnings to charity, I tip well out of respect for working people, and I advocate for my beliefs with this blog and in other forums. I would pay more taxes to help folks. I do what I feel I can. I don’t assume anything other of you.

    Clinton—Why don’t we go after the everyday breaches of civility we see from Houstonians of all economic classes? Why three ordinances in nine months directed at one group? Where are city efforts to mitigate the numbers of homeless instead of just punishing them?

    Comment by Neil Aquino | March 9, 2012

  4. I would pay more taxes to help folks.

    You can, you know. Whenever you want.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | March 9, 2012

  5. Mr Aquino, thanks for the perspective on Mayor Parker and the prevailing attitudes,prejudices and neglect toward the poor and homeless in the Houston area. Some believe Ms Parker, the Star of Hope, SEARCH, the Coalition for the Homeless punish and discriminate against many times more poor and unsheltered than they aid, IE SOH a $23 mil/yr project w/ 754 beds, ?? thats right $32,000 per bed and they own their real estate free and clear!!!
    Houston Solutions for Housing Inc ( http://www.hs4h.com) is developing low barrier shelters for people who need it. We rehab shuttered buildings. We are connecting w/ advocates for the poor and unsheltered. Please refer us to all activist, advocates, proponents of the the poor and unsheltered. Jeff Lyons

    Comment by Jeff Lyons | June 7, 2012


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