San Jose Community Challenges City Policy to Ban Assistance to Homeless

Faith based organizations, students, and service providers have issued the following statement regarded a proposed policy that would criminalize assistance to the homeless. A petition has been started against this proposal that can be signed online here

On April 22 at 1:30 pm the San Jose City Council will consider a new Special Events Ordinance that will have the effect of banning churches, ministries, and volunteer groups from feeding and assisting the homeless in parks and public spaces. It would require a burdensome City special event permit and County health permit every time a group wants to share food with the poor on City property.

Some Councilmembers say they support this ban because they believe feeding the homeless encourages them to live outside. However, the homeless do not need any encouragement. They have no choice but to live outside due to the unavailability of affordable rents, affordable housing, or even shelter beds. San Jose’s “ten year plan” to end chronic homelessness recently ended with more homeless on the streets than when it started.

City Councilmembers have so far failed to advance proposals to obtain the revenue necessary to end the affordable housing crisis. Silicon Valley clearly has the resources to house its people. The only question is who will exercise the visionary political leadership necessary to make it happen.
The new Special Events Ordinance is unfortunately a step in the wrong direction. We should be encouraging more compassion, empathy, and empowerment, not less. Apparently the idea is to ban food distribution in the misguided hope that the homeless will then not use public parks and ultimately just leave San Jose.

Many of us have been working to house the homeless for years and some of us for decades. Our groups include Vietnamese, Latino, Indians, technology professionals, college students, and people of all backgrounds, colors, and beliefs. We are willing to cooperate with County officials to guarantee that our food is safely prepared in approved kitchens. Churches are not trying to poison the people we serve. We are also committed to ensuring that the areas we use are always left cleaner than when we got there.

What we will not do is cooperate with City attempts to segregate the homeless, push them out of sight, and criminalize the people that are trying to help them.

RAD (Regeneration Against Destruction)
C.A.R.E. Outreach Program
CHAM Deliverance Ministry
Silicon Valley De-Bug
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Thanks to everyone for your calls, emails, and petition signatures in response to our notice about the City of San Jose’s attempt to ban feeding the homeless in public parks. As a result of the public uproar, which has been building for a couple of weeks, the Director of Housing informed me late this morning that this item will NOT be on the agenda next week and the special events ordinance will NO LONGER include language forbidding people to feed the homeless.

This is a great victory for compassion, common sense, and the people of San Jose. Apparently the City Councilmembers are reluctant to publicly defend this draconian measure when so many of them are campaigning for Mayor in the June 3 election.

Defeating this repressive ban was the first part. Now we have to re-commit ourselves to fighting for a city and a country that houses its people and meets their basic human needs. San Jose will find its way when it discovers that its true wealth is not in technology corporation bank accounts, but in the heart, mind, and soul of its people, every single one of them.

Feel free to join us at the Jungle at 5:30 pm this Friday, April 18 to feed the homeless and prepare for the Earth Day Clean-Up that has been scheduled there for this Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20. The Jungle is the large encampment at the corner of Senter and Story Road, across the street from Happy Hollow in San Jose.

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