Lawsuit against homeless feeding ordinance on verge of dismissal

HOUSTON — A Houstonian claiming his religious freedom is being denied might soon see his lawsuit against the city dismissed.

“And it appeared that Judge Kyle Carter was thinking about dismissing the case saying that Phillip doesn’t have standing,” says Attorney Eric Dick.

Phillip Paul Bryant filed a lawsuit in 2017, claiming his religious rights to charitable giving were being infringed upon by a 2012 Houston feeding the homeless ordinance.

In the City of Houston, you can give five homeless people a sandwich, but that sixth sandwich, that’s the one that will cost you.

“Could be fined $500 to $2,000 or you could even take the risk with going to jail,” explains homeless advocate Shere Dore.

According to his attorney, Bryant’s case may not find a home in Harris County Civil Court.

“They’re saying that my client he waited over a year to file a lawsuit since he found out about the law, if people just found out about the law, and they want to sue the city for this illegal act, I’m willing to represent them for free. I think it’s a mean world whenever acts of charity are criminal,” explains Dick.

To be fair, the ordinance doesn’t outright ban the giving of food to the homeless, it just creates a lot of hurdles to jump through to do it lawfully.

“My children are a big deal in this and teaching them how to give to the community, if they want to make 10 sack lunches and go hand them around down town Houston I shouldn’t have to go to my government office in order to obtain permission just to give those sandwiches,” says Dore.

The City of Houston's statement on the development, “The court took the matter under advisement. In addition, it postponed an upcoming trial in the case. “