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New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Food Sharing

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On Tuesday, October 21, Fort Lauderdale Commissioners will vote on a proposed ordinance that will severely limit the capabilities of groups to distribute food to people experiencing homelessness. According to our research, over 30 American cities that have tried to introduce similar legislation in the past two years.

The new report, Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Needdocuments the recent known cases of food-sharing restrictions throughout the country. Since January 2013, 21 cities have restricted the practice of sharing food with people who are experiencing homelessness while at least ten others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval.

These restrictions primarily come about in three different forms; the first is by restricting the use of public property. In this scenario, individuals and organizations are generally required to obtain a permit, often for a fee, to share food in a park or in another public space. 12 cities have recently passed legislation that imposes this type of restriction.

The second type of legislative restriction is to require groups to comply with city/county/state food-safety regulations. Since January 2013, four cities have passed legislation that required individuals and organizations to comply with their food-safety regulations when sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

The last method utilized to deter food-sharing are community actions driven by the principle of “Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)”. Often, local businesses and homeowners do not want to attract people experiencing homelessness to their community join together to put pressure on local government or directly on individuals and organizations that share food with people experiencing homelessness. These groups are harassed and in result feel compelled to relocate their food-sharing efforts or cut the program all together. Since January 2013, four cities have successfully utilized this tactic, with local community pressure, to pass legislation to restrict sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

Share No MoreThis year’s food-sharing report attempts to address the myths and motivations that often drive the demand for food-sharing restrictions. While the evidence is overwhelming that this practice is too common, there are some success stories that prove that these restrictions do not need to stand. Citizens can use the same community pressure to stop these laws from taking effect. Some faith-based organizations have led the fight to protect their First Amendment Right to openly practice their religion. There are a number of policies we can advocate for on the local, state, and federal level to protect the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness.

Since January, 2013 the following 22 cities have passed ordinances that restrict the food-sharing process.

Public Property:

Food Safety:

Forced Relocation:

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Lake Worth, FL
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Houston, TX
  • Shawnee, OK
  • Costa Mesa, CA
  • Chico, CA
  • Hayward, CA
  • Manchester, NH
  • Olympia, WA
  • Columbia, SC
  • Medford, OR
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Lafayette, IN
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Seattle WA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • St. Petersburg, FL

 For more information about food-sharing restrictions please read this year’s report and/or contact the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week and Youth Homelessness

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Uncategorized

Why you should think about youth homelessness this Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week by Deirdre Walsh, NCH Intern

Youth homelessness is this year’s central theme for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. While the issues associated with living in poverty are difficult for all, homeless youths encounter unique obstacles when trying to secure housing, employment, health care, and emergency services. Discrimination and a lack of opportunities put American youths at great risk to be on the streets without access to shelter, appropriate resources, and protection. The National Campaign for Youth Shelter seeks to provide all young people, ages 24 and under with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principles that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets. This commitment calls attention to the causes of youth homelessness and its troublesome existence in the United States today.

Each year, as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness. Many homeless young people have fled abusive homes, left or aged out the foster care system without resources, or been rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Increased discrimination against the homeless youth population is leading thousands to life on the street and the need is greater than ever for shelter beds and resources. The National Campaign for Youth Shelter calls for an immediate commitment of 22,000 shelter beds and services to match the impending influx of youths requesting services. The campaign also calls for a more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade. It is only through understanding the ongoing issue and realities of homeless youth that their needs can be address.

Schools and community groups can support this campaign. When planning events for this year’s H&H Week, event organizers can shine an important light on vulnerable youth populations. NCH is encouraging groups to take actions that will be matched around the country to start a movement that will keep fighting long after Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Find your local shelter that provides resources specifically to homeless youth and see what they need or what resources they lack. Advocate on the behalf of discriminated LGBTQ youths to your local, state, and federal officials. Help your community know what resources are needed and raise funds and materials for your local shelter. Our society cannot sustain the lack of resources for homeless youth. There is only 1 bed available for every 125 homeless youth. Awareness and advocacy this Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week can help to increase the number of youth shelter beds increase and decrease the number of homeless youth on the streets.

Download the Planning Guide for advice on organizing youth-focused awareness events.

Speaking on Homelessness at Northern Virginia Mosque

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Speakers' Bureau

Speaking on Homelessness at Northern Virginia Mosque – By Andrea Barron, NCH Volunteer

SpeakersSince 1999, the Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau has made over 3,000 presentations throughout the United States. It has held hundreds of events at synagogues, churches, public and private schools and universities, but never at a mosque. This was about to change. On September 13, Dana Woolfolk and Candi Darley became the first NCH speakers to visit a mosque.

Dana and Candi were invited to speak at Dar al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Virginia by Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the mosque’s Outreach Director. September 13 was a special day in Virginia – it was designated as a “Day to Serve” by the mayor of Washington DC and the Governors of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. In Northern Virginia, volunteers from religious communities collected food donations for the food pantries at Dar al-Hijrah and the Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA).

MosqueCandi shared her experiences with “Day to Serve” volunteers at the mosque, and with the Latina women waiting to register for the food pantry.  Originally from Panama, Candi had not spoken publicly in Spanish for years. But she made such an impression on the Latina women, mostly from El Salvador, that some of them discussed inviting her to speak about homelessness at their churches.

Dana addressed over 150 Muslims, immediately following prayer services. He spoke movingly about how he had once been addicted to drugs and alcohol and lived on the streets for three years. But he overcame his addiction and now works as a therapist and Clinical Recovery Coach and has become one of the leading advocates on homelessness in Virginia.

“I was honored to be the first representative from the National Coalition for the Homeless at a mosque,” said Dana. Everyone at Dar al-Hijrah treated me like a brother and made me feel welcome. Imam Johari can be a strong ally for us to end homelessness in Northern Virginia.”

“The tenets of Islam underscore the importance of caring for the miskeen (poor in Arabic),” said Imam Johari. “So it is a fulfillment of our faith to care for the homeless and the hungry. Often times people do not see the face of what hunger and homelessness look like—Dana showed us that people who are now or used be homeless are just like us.”

The Imam said he hopes to work with the National Coalition on a “Day of Action about Homelessness” in January 2015, when Muslims celebrate the birth of the prophet Mohammed. Thanks to Candi and Dana, NCH is now on its way to building a relationship with the Muslim community of Northern Virginia.

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