Changes reported in homeless feeding ordinance | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Changes reported in homeless feeding ordinance

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 3:17 PM

click to enlarge PROTESTING: Jack McGhee joins a crowd at City Hall protesting a proposal to discourage feeding of homeless people in city parks. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • PROTESTING: Jack McGhee joins a crowd at City Hall protesting a proposal to discourage feeding of homeless people in city parks.

Advocates for the homeless were told this afternoon of changes in the Little Rock proposal to drive regular feeding programs for the homeless out of city parks, particularly the Riverfront Park downtown.

The original ordinance set a $25 permit fee for free feeds for groups of more than 25 and limited organizations to two meal events per park per year.

This afternoon, a city staffer said the refundable deposit would be reduced from $500 to $100 and the meal limit would be increased from two to six.

I don't think these changes will satisfy homeless advocates, who've argued that efforts to limit outreach to the homeless are unconstitutional. Broadway Bridge construction stopped a regular weekly feeding program near Riverfront Park that soon could be resumed unless the ordinance is adopted.

The ordinance is on the City Board meeting today for a first reading, but City Manager Bruce Moore has said it won't come to a vote today.

The ACLU has threatened to sue if the city goes ahead with a plan to limit feeding of the homeless.

Aaron Reddin, founder of The One, a homeless outreach, said the ordinance remains unacceptable to him with the changes. Fred Ball, another leader of homeless efforts, also said it changed nothing for him. And he disputed the city employee's representation that homeless groups hadn't responded to an invitation to collaborate.

David Koon is watching the City Board tonight. But before the meeting started, critics of the policy were demonstrating outside City Hall.

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