Mayor Parker And City Of Houston Considering A Third Restriction On The Homeless In Nine Months—Criminalizing Sharing
A broad cross-section of Houston is opposing Mayor Annise Parker’s proposal that would criminalize some acts of sharing food with the homeless in Houston.
Below is a list of groups and community leaders that oppose this measure—
American Rights Association • Casa Juan Diego • Casa de la Fuente • Central Canaan Christian Church • Christ the Servant Lutheran Church • Dominican Sisters of Houston • Ecclesia Church Simple Feast • The Executive Council • Harris County Democratic Socialists • Harris County Green Party • The Harris County Libertarian Party • House of Amos • Houston Area Pastor Council • Houston Food Not Bombs • Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center • Houston Property Rights Association • Houston Tea Party Society • Houston United • Houston Young Republicans • IMPACT: I am the Movement • ISKCON Houston (Hare Krishna Temple) • Japhet Civic Association • Joe Williams Ministries • KHA-Atheists • Last Chance Recovery Center • Last Organic Outpost • Mosque #45, Nation of Islam • Muslims Against Hunger, Disease and Injustice • National Lawyers Guild, Houston Chapter • Noah’s Kitchen • Occupy Houston • Pat Greer’s Kitchen • Pax Christi • Ryon Civic Association • Shape Community Center • Sinfull Bakery • Stand Up for Kids • Texas Public Policy Foundation • Taxpayers For Equal Appraisal • UH Fair Labor Action Committee • UH Students for a Democratic Society • UH Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault• West Houston Assistance Ministries. • Young Americans for Liberty, HCC • Community Leaders: Deloyd Parker • Minister Robert Muhammad • Reverend Fana, Women’s Resource Center • Duane Bradley, KPFT General manager • Houston City Council Member Helena Brown • Ray Hill • Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Editor and Publisher, Faith That Inspires Action • Dave Atwood, Houston Peace and Justice Center
“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.”
With this being the third measure to restrict the actions of the homeless in nine months, it seems that Annise Parker and at least some members of Houston City Council believe that just moving the homeless along will solve the problem.
The Mayor has in the past spoken up against payday loan operators in Houston and for the rights of Downtown office tower janitors to organize.
How can Mayor Parker see a series of punitive measures against the homeless as the right course?
As it stands now, City Council will take up this issue again on Tuesday, March 20. The Council session begins at 2 PM.
Here are some details about speaking at this session—
1) You must call the City Secretary (832) 393 – 1100 to reserve time to speak, ask for one minute, call asap during business hours to reserve your slot. Tell them you want to speak about “criminalizing public service”
2) Leave time to find parking, the session starts at 2. You must arrive with an ID, and be prepared to go through a metal detector.
If you can’t attend the session, call the Mayor and your members of council.
We seem to have plenty of money in Houston to offer tax breaks and incentives for soccer stadiums and so-called arthouse movie theaters. If we have these kinds of funds, than why not more resources to help the homeless—many of them no doubt veterans—towards work and self-sufficiency?