LA May Ban Feeding Homeless in Public

Advocates say residents trying to make a difficult problem disappear
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2013 8:10 AM CST
Margaret Warrick, a 55-year-old homeless woman, lies on a bench in the outdoor courtyard of the Midnight Mission in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, Thursday, April 18, 2013.    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – For 27 years, the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition has offered free meals to LA's homeless out of the back of a truck. Now, two city council members are forwarding legislation that would shut that operation down—or at least force it to move indoors. The resolution would ban feeding the homeless in public, the New York Times reports. More than 30 other cities have considered or instituted similar laws, but it would be especially significant in LA, home to the nation's second-largest homeless population (at 53,800 across Los Angeles County). The resolution's sponsors, who are both Democrats, say moving meals off the street would benefit the homeless and residents alike, and certainly some residents are in favor.

"They are living in my bushes and they are living in my next door neighbor's crawl space," says one resident. "We have a neighborhood which now seems like a mental ward." Another says public defecation is an issue: "While it sounds good in concept—I'm going to pull up to a curb, I'm going to feed people, I'm going to clean up, and I'm going to leave—well, there are not restrooms." But advocates for the homeless say the effort is misguided. "The people who want to get rid of us see dollar signs, property values, ahead of pretty much everything else," says the founder of the Food Coalition. (Read more homeless stories.)

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