For the third time in recent months, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council are considering regulations directed at homeless people.
“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.
Is this how Mayor Parker feels she can best meet her inaugural pledge to help the homeless?
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.