Over the last several years local governments have been using food and safety concerns along with zoning codes to penalize those who are trying to help the less fortunate.
Just last month, 4,000 pounds of leftover barbecue from the World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri was destroyed before it could be served at the local homeless shelter. Local health officials claimed that they could not account for the safety of the food even though the chefs who cooked the meat were world renowned. Because of this, 3,000 homeless people went without a meal that night.
In 2014, an elderly man in his 90s was jailed numerous times for feeding the homeless after a city ordinance that forbid citizens from doing so was passed.
While these are only a few examples, they demonstrate a pattern of local governments shutting down individuals who are doing nothing wrong, but instead just wanting to help those in needs.
What is happening at the Patapsco united Methodist Church in Maryland follows this same trend. Homeless community members have been using the church for shelter during the late night hours to get away from the bitter cold. Since Maryland winters are extremely rough, the church became a lifesaver for many who otherwise had slept out on the street.
The church has been able to provide shelter to these homeless individuals without many complaints from the surrounding community. However, Chester Bartko’s property line lies just behind the church, and has insisted that the church put an end to providing shelter to those in need.
Bartko has alerted local officials about the church’s actions repeatedly. He has also said that one of his apple trees has been ruined by the church’s homeless visitors., but these reports have no been confirmed.
The church does not have the proper permits that would allow homeless visitors to reside there overnight. Because of this, the city is demanding that the church pay a $12,000 fine by December the 18th.
Over the cold winter months and during these times of economic uncertainty, communities should do all they can to help those who are less fortunate. The church was doing a noble thing. By creating criminals out of people who are only trying to do good, and sending the homeless out into the cold, our society is not anything to strengthen our communities.
Reverend Grover is very unhappy about what has transpired. She is sad that she can no longer continue what she believes to be God’s work.
By Ariana Marisol