The city of Shawnee said, in the past, it has seen people do free feedings in the downtown area for those without homes, leaving trash for locals to pick up.
A new Shawnee ordinance will soon require people who want to give out free food downtown to get a permit.
The city of Shawnee said, in the past, it has seen people do free feedings in the downtown area for those without homes, leaving trash for locals to pick up. The new ordinance aims to address the issue, but not everyone is happy about the decision.
"There were two and three groups coming into feed or where groups have left and left trash in the downtown area, which then either city staff had to clean up or nearby property owners depending on which way the trash blew," said Shawnee City Manager Andrea Weckmueller-Behringer.
The new rule would not outlaw handing a single meal to someone on the streets.
"Feeding operations is defined as four or more individuals," said Weckmueller-Behringer.
One woman who has worked in shelters near Shawnee for years said this isn't the correct way to address the issue.
“I thought, 'That’s outrageous. That’s a step too far,'" said Sarah Inselman, who works with the homeless community in Shawnee. "They’re humans, and they deserve to be treated like humans."
The city manager said people can apply for a free permit to give out food, but they encourage them to work with their Homeless Resource Center instead.
“What we were trying to do was balance the needs of our community overall and not tip property owners and business owners against homeless neighbors because we do recognize that eating is a basic requirement," said Weckmueller-Behringer.
Fines could be issued to anyone who tries to feed multiple people without a permit. The city said a first offense would cost $250, and the second would cost $500.
"I encourage them to pull the permit," said Weckmueller-Behringer. "Just simply, it is for coordination purposes so we do not leave an unsanitary environment."
The city will begin issuing fines starting Thursday, Nov. 16.
Reposted from www.koco.com