San Jose City Council Moves to Criminalize Those Who Feed the Homeless 4-22

Norse’s Notes:  Sandy Perry of the Community Homeless Outreach Ministry in San Jose is seeking both organizational and personal opposition.  He can be contacted at 408-691-6153 for more information about which bigwigs to contact and what the nature of the protest will be.

            Keith McHenry of Food Not Bombs has spoken recently and written on his website about growing pressure against Food Not Bombs chapters across the country in the gentrification/criminalization attack on homeless folks.  See .
In Santa Cruz a cranky postal worker has repeatedly harassed Food Not Bombs workers when they feed on the steps of the (publicly owned) federal post office downtown, but local police have not responded to his complaints with any citations or arrests.
The Santa Cruz FNB meal happens every Saturday and Sunday at 4 PM on the sidewalk near the main post office at Front and Water Streets.   Chow down and volunteer to cook!

          On April 22 at 1:30 pm the San Jose City Council will consider a new Special Events Ordinance that will have the effect of banning churches, ministries, and volunteer groups from feeding and assisting the homeless in parks and public spaces. It would require a burdensome City special event permit and County health permit every time a group wants to share food with the poor on City property.
          Some Councilmembers say they support this ban because they believe feeding the homeless encourages them to live outside. However, the homeless do not need any encouragement. They have no choice but to live outside due to the unavailability of affordable rents, affordable housing, or even shelter beds.
San Jose’s “ten year plan” to end chronic homelessness recently ended with more homeless on the streets than when it started.
         City Councilmembers have so far failed to advance proposals to obtain the revenue necessary to end the affordable housing crisis. Silicon Valley clearly has the resources to house its people. The only question is who will exercise the visionary political leadership necessary to make it happen.
          The new Special Events Ordinance is unfortunately a step in the wrong direction. We should be encouraging more compassion, empathy, and empowerment, not less. Apparently the idea is to ban food distribution in the misguided hope that the homeless will then not use public parks and ultimately just leave San Jose.
           Many of us have been working to house the homeless for years and some of us for decades. Our groups include Vietnamese, Latino, Indians, technology professionals, college students, and people of all backgrounds, colors, and beliefs. We are willing to cooperate with County officials to guarantee that our food is safely prepared in approved kitchens. Churches are not trying to poison the people we serve. We are also committed to ensuring that the areas we use are always left cleaner than when we got there.
            What we will not do is cooperate with City attempts to segregate the homeless, push them out of sight, and criminalize the people that are trying to help them.
RAD (Regeneration Against Destruction)
C.A.R.E. Outreach Program
CHAM Deliverance Ministry
Silicon Valley DeBug