Helping my city’s homeless could land me in jail with a $2000 dollar fine.
Last November, a 90-year-old Florida man was arrested and faced 60 days in jail for feeding the homeless. A few months later, a San Antonio woman was hit with a $2000 dollar fine for doing the same.. These “feeding bans” have popped up all over the United States. In fact, more than 70 cities around the country have instituted or tried to institute similar ordinances.
My name is Randall Kallinen, and I am deeply saddened to say that my beloved city of Houston has followed suit. Now, a good deed could cost you $2000 here, too. This is just the wrong direction to be taking. It’s anti-compassion and anti-humanitarian, and we need to turn it around.
Tell Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council that feeding the homeless isn’t a crime. Change the law and allow good samaritans to feed the hungry.
As a civil rights lawyer for over 21 years, homeless advocate and the president of Houston’s ACLU chapter for 3 years, I speak from experience when I say that humane acts of kindness should be rewarded, not punished. When Houston passed this ban 3 years ago, organizations from across the religious and political spectrum spoke out because they understood that being a good samaritan isn’t a religious or political issue, but rather a matter of human rights. Now most have been frightened off from giving to the needy. Helping those in need should be considered a fundamental right, particularly now when more and more people are experiencing food insecurity and the government is failing to fix the problem. Houston’s cruel “anti-feeding” ordinance stands in the way of that right, and it is up to you and me to overturn it.
Because of our size, as Texas goes, so goes the rest of the country in many political matters. Too many cities have already adopted these anti-humanitarian measures. Getting Houston to rescind this draconian ordinance where you must seek permission as where and when to feed more than 5 less fortunate outside on public property could go a long way toward turning the tide across the nation.
Criminalizing charity penalizes our community’s most vulnerable. Can you help to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Let’s put an end to this misguided ordinance and return the spirit of giving and charity to the city of Houston. Join me and tell Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council that every human deserves compassion. Tell them to rescind the “anti-feeding” ordinance.