You’ve seen men and women sleeping on park benches. Even in Idaho, homelessness is a serious problem that affects many people. And even a person with a roof over their head and three square meals a day can’t help but be affected by the presence of panhandlers and the homeless. In the United States, homelessness is a problem that is not getting better, no matter how hard we wish it would.
In the face of the indisputable fact that homelessness is not decreasing and is even going up in some states, it’s a curious fact that 21 cities in the US have passed legislation that limits where food can be shared with the homeless by charitable groups and individuals. This includes limiting how many feeding sites can be on one block, how close they can be to each other and how close they can be to homes.
The legislatures passing these measures argue that it’s enabling to feed the homeless: it keeps them in their current status.
Opponents of the measures argue that it criminalized homelessness, and does more harm than good to providing assistance to those that need it. Further, they argue that homelessness is caused and perpetuated by factors like “lack of affordable housing, lack of job opportunity, mental health or physical disability” and not food sharing.
What do you think? Is it important to get food to the homeless, no matter where they are located? Is it more pertinent to only feed the homeless near mental health, substance abuse and job readiness services? What are the most important services to provide to the homeless?