Stop Requiring Permits to Feed the Homeless in Atlanta!

  • by: Freya H
  • recipient: Atlanta City Government

Many homeless advocates advise that if you want to help those in need, you should give them food - not cash. But sadly, it’s becoming increasingly common for U.S. cities to punish the charitable people who put their time and money into this effort.

Police in some areas of Atlanta have begun handing out fliers to warn people that dispensing food to unsheltered homeless people without a paid permit is forbidden under local law.

Homeless advocate Marshall Rancifer explained that he was stunned when he read the material. Rancifer says he has been feeding people for 17 years without a permit.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Joseph Spillane insists that this is not a new law, explaining that the policy only aims to minimize litter. He encourages those wanting to help to volunteer at churches or shelters.

The leaflet also indicates that the law was designed out of a concern for food safety. Most curiously, though, the flier argues that giving out food is "not a long-term solution" because the homeless people who receive it "become dependent," preventing them from "seeking the help and support that they truly need."

This is part of a national war against the homeless, the most defenseless and helpless members of our society. The homeless need help and compassion, not brutality or barriers between them and assistance. The reasons for the permit are rubbish. A "Good Samaritan" law passed in 1996 addresses food safety concerns of individuals and organizations that donate food. Providing the homeless with alms will not make then "dependent" or less likely to seek help. Many do not want to be beggars, but without jobs or family they have no choice.

This nation needs to end this horrible and sick war on the homeless. We need to be giving them shelter and nutritious meals, as well as training so they can find work - and we need to stop making it hard for people to give them the help they need.

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