Feeding the homeless caused quite a controversy recently in Daytona Beach, Florida. A local law prohibits individuals from sharing food with homeless people in public places, but Debbie and Chico Jimenez chose to violate the law when they gave food to about 100 homeless people at a park. It’s something they have been doing for the past year. This time, the couple — who operate a local ministry to help the impoverished — and four friends were charged and fined $2,000. Eventually, the charges and fines were dismissed. And, the Jimenezes have vowed to apply for the proper city permit to continue feeding the homeless in the park.
This has long been a hot button issue all over the country. Should you feed the homeless or give them money when there are agencies like ours — Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) — that provide them with food, shelter, clean clothing, showers, beds, and job training opportunities? Is it a better idea to direct the homeless to go to DRMM and similar organizations?
In the Florida case, the local ordinance instructs people who want to perform acts of kindness or charity to coordinate their efforts with local social service agencies.
It’s a difficult question, because we know that not all homeless people want to follow the rules that will be imposed upon them in emergency shelters. Not all homeless people have made up their minds that they want to turn around their lives. And, some are still caught up in their addictions and likely will spend any donated money in counterproductive ways.
Additionally, feeding the homeless in public or giving them a few dollars is a temporary fix. The next day they will be looking for the next benevolent giver. DRMM seeks to provide the homeless with permanent solutions that will get them off the streets and into homes, careers, and productive lives.
I’m curious, what do you think about individuals feeding the homeless in public places or giving them money?