HOUSTON, TX – Sometimes folks fall on tough times. People with homes can either make life for homeless a little better, or they can do the opposite.
Some say the City of Houston is doing the latter. Take James Kelly. He says he was in the Navy for nine years (having gotten out back in 1989), and right now, he is barely getting by.
In a recent low moment, Kelly says he was searching a downtown trash for food, when the cops showed up and gave him a citation.
“The police say that he committed the crime of disturbing a garbage can in the downtown central business district,” says civil rights attorney Randal Kallinen.
For their part, HPD released a statement, saying in-part: “The ordinance is specific to the central business district. It is a violation… for anyone to remove any contents of any bin, bag or other container that has been placed for collection of garbage…”
But Houston Food Not Bombs, the advocacy group Kelly turned to, says this is part of a nasty pattern.
“This is just another form of the city of Houston oppressing the homeless due to the downtown business interests and land owners,” says Kallinen, who is now representing Kelly pro bono. “In the City of Houston, the number of available beds is much less than the homeless, so every night thousands of people have to be on the streets.”
Kelly says he’s felt uplifted by an outpouring of support. We’ll see what happens in court, but at the very least, he says this has fed his soul.
“All too often you feel no one gives a damn whether you live or die, but hearing the support that’s coming around, it does my heart good, and thank you to everybody who is helping.”