The Ft. Lauderdale City Commission has a plan for the downtown homeless population. Not the plan they're making noise about, the one which would provide an indoor, air-conditioned location to feed people, but another one they'd rather avoid discussing. It's a plan to ban feeding in the city's parks, a decades-long practice provided by a variety of spiritual and secular groups. The proposed ban is favored by a majority on the commission, the city attorney and the downtown business elite, as represented by the Downtown Development Authority.
While the commission's determination to move ahead with a ban is contingent upon finding a location, as has been the goal of an ad hoc task force set up last September, the critical moment is nearing as the task force has begun making its proposals. It's just a matter of time before compromises and concessions are made to overcome the inevitable "not-in-my-backyard" responses from neighborhood group members on the task force, and a location is agreed upon.
Now is the time to tell the City Commission that while a fixed location would be a welcome addition to existing homeless services, banning feeding in the parks, which local and even ACLU attorneys guarantee will spur a legal challenge, is not an appropriate course of action. It also is important to tell them that the number one group opposing a ban is the homeless themselves.
Photo credit: psd