Opinion: Local Governments’ War on the Homeless

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Tis the season once again for giving. It is that time of year again where we look past ourselves, and we think of other people. We serve festive meals to our families, give gifts to our loved ones, and even give back to the less fortunate in our communities.

This is the time of year we find the extra coats in our closet, the extra cans in our pantry, even the extra change in our pocket, and we give it to those who need our surplus more than we do. We do all we can to give the less fortunate the resources it needs to survive. But lately, an unlikely authority has been stopping people from giving back to their communities.

More than ever, city governments across the U.S. have been imposing new laws and restrictions on helping the homeless.

Lets start with New York City. Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned food donations to city homeless shelters. The supposed reason behind it was because the city can not assess their salt, fat, and fiber content. In a press conference, he told CBS New York reporters:

“For the things that we run because of all sorts of safety reasons, we just have a policy it is my understanding of not taking donations. If they (NYC residents) did in the past they shouldn’t have done it and we shouldn’t have accepted it”

Even as the city is still recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, and its residents have turned to dumpsters for food, this ban is still in place.

These regulations aren’t just in New York, but all over the country. In Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, Mayor Michael Nutter outlawed serving meals to the homeless in city parks.

Please check out the video above to learn about the new ban, and its affects of soup kitchens.

The war on the homeless has also been in our backyard too. While we haven’t banned giving food to the less fortunate, we have attempted to tax panhandlers. Two years ago, former city councilman Jeff Berding introduced a 2.1 percent tax on money panhandlers get. That measure didn’t pass, but what did pass is a city law that required homeless shelters to discourage their residents from panhandling in the streets.

And let’s not forget the stringent rules of Washington Park, that originally banned people from dropping off food or clothing. After a federal lawsuit was filed, the city’s park board dropped the rule.

Why are local government officials turning their backs on the people they serve? Why are they stopping the people, whom they helped elect their position, from helping their fellow citizens? It’s hard to believe seeing a city resident passing a starving homeless person, who can’t give them a sandwich because it’s illegal to do so. Personally, I hope Cincinnati’s government doesn’t go down that road.

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