Thursday, March 23, 2006

Don't Feed the Homeless


Wilmington City leaders call it a short-term solution to a long-term problem. They approved a proposal Tuesday that bans feeding homeless people in the downtown area.

City leaders say it's not about not helping the homeless. With this resolution passing they're hoping to work more closely with agencies that help feed the homeless. Part of this resolution is to bring those agencies and city departments closer together. In developing this idea staff members talked to six community groups that currently do help the homeless.

Leaders are developing what they call a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Council members said they aren't trying to punish homeless people, but instead, making sure they are getting the best help they can get.

"If we do ours here and it's not done in another community, it's just going to shift the homeless population. As we move forward with our plan, we think there's a way to do it, but it's going to take a total cooperative effort," Mayor Spence Broadhurst said.

The area that's affected is from Water to Third Street and Ann to Grace Street. No feeding can be done on streets or sidewalks.

The City wants to work with the groups that feed homeless to have specific areas where they can give out food; that's part of the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Right now estimates put the number of homeless in New Hanover County at about 600. That's more than either Pender or Brunswick Counties.

The City of Wilmington would like to start broadcasting public service announcements to educate residents about the homeless situation.

This comes just weeks after the city council pass a rule that there is to be no panhandling in the same area. All this is an effort to make downtown Wilmington a more attractive destination for tourist and local shoppers. Wilmington has had a growing homeless problem for a while now. I've even heard that other cities where buying their homeless population bus tickets to re-locate to Wilmington. I can understand the council's feelings on this issue, just the other day my wife was at a drive-through window when a man walked up to her open window to beg for money. It scared her pretty bad when she looked up from her wallet and a man was standing there looking at her.

posted by David at 12:19 AM :: Permalink ::

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