Houston advocate collects 75,000 signatures to end policy requiring permit to feed homeless

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HOUSTON — There is a food fight on at Houston's City Hall. It's a push to help Houston's homeless population by targeting an unpopular city ordinance that makes it a crime to feed people in public.

"This is hurting the good Samaritans as well as people who are less fortunate than the rest of us who have a home," civil rights attorney Randal Kallinen said.

Passed in 2012 and signed by former-Mayor Anise Parker, the law requires volunteers to have a permit in order to feed more than five people at once.

The ordinance also requires anyone handing out meals to get food-safety training and written consent from private property owners.

"The homeless are people. And shuffling them around and telling them they can't be here, that's no dignity," Killinen said.

The civil rights attorney collected 75,000 signatures and presented them to the City Council. One of the signatories told council members, "When I first read Randal Kallinen's petition, I was shocked and dismayed."

Mayor Sylvester Turner told the petitioners that he plans to feed homeless people, but that the problem will persist as long as there are needs in the homeless community that are not being met.

The only thing advocates for the homeless want is for the city to meet them halfway.