Regulation of the Day 179: Giving Food to Homeless People

Last Wednesday, three people were arrested in Orlando for giving food to homeless people in a local park. They violated city regulations that require “groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.” The rules apply to events that give food to over 25 people; the arrestees fed about 40 people.

Their charitable work could cost them each a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. All three are affiliated with a group call Food Not Bombs that regularly gives meals to homeless people. The Wednesday event that led to the arrests was a deliberate resistance to the ordinance. Hopefully they will succeed in overturning it; the last thing government should do when people try to help each other is get in the way.

2 responses to “Regulation of the Day 179: Giving Food to Homeless People

  1. Living in Orlando, I know the backstory on this issue. The ordinance was enacted specifically because of this group’s actions — and it’s not like it’s three guys handing out sandwiches to a couple homeless people. There’re a large number of members of this group and they set up a major operation, feeding dozens of homeless. This public park gets a lot of use and does require permits for other large events, as well. Within walking distance of the park are numerous fixed structures that offer food, including the Salvation Army. The ordinance was in response to citizens complaints about being accosted by homeless people during these events.

    • Thanks for the context, Paul. It’s good to hear that other, more tactful groups are providing similar services.

      Food Not Bombs may be obnoxious, but I still think they have a point here, as far as permitting goes.

      People who are receiving free food certainly shouldn’t be badgering people uninvolved with the event. But people uninvolved with the event can also avoid the parks on those days.

      Both sides have good arguments to make here. If you have further thoughts, they are welcome. I am persuadable.