Mayor Nutter moves to ban outdoor homeless feeding

March 14, 2012 7:28:55 PM PDT
If they feed the hungry outside in public places, homeless advocates will have to change the way they distribute meals in the city of Philadelphia.

Every evening, hundreds of homeless people line up on the parkway to receive food from a variety of organizations. On Wednesday, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a new regulation banning these outdoor feedings.

The ban takes effect in 30 days.

The mayor says he wants to encourage the homeless to go to existing indoor locations to get a healthy meal.

"I believe that people, regardless of their station in life, should be able to sit down at a table to a meal - inside away from the heat and cold, the rain and the snow," Mayor Nutter said.

Those who feed the homeless, and the homeless themselves, say this ban is misguided. Adam Bruckner and his group Philly Restart feed about 300 people on the parkway on Monday evenings in the summer.

He said he does provide support services and existing homeless shelters cannot handle the number of hungry people in the city.

"I would love for someone to put us out of business by providing that in a different place but since there is not, we have be there to do this," Bruckner said.

For the next year, with the proper permit, groups can still provide food to the homeless on the apron surrounding City Hall. After that, feeding the homeless is activity that has to happen indoors.

Those who want to use the City Hall apron will be required to sign up with the Department of Public Property and reserve dates and times, the mayor said.

The City of Philadelphia will provide water and portable toilets on the apron. The location will be available for up to one year.

The regulation is expected to be enacted on Thursday. Nutter said the regulation will not affect family picnics or permitted events in parks.