Dozens of U.S. cities are cracking down on camping and providing food for people in public in what antipoverty activists characterize as an attempt by urban officials to criminalize homelessness, writes USA Today.
Philadelphia recently barred organizations from setting up makeshift meal services in city parks, joining more than 50 other major cities from coast to coast that have enacted new restrictions on sleeping in public, sharing food, and other measures affecting the homeless.
City officials say such ordinances aim to safeguard public health and improve the lot of the homeless by steering them to safe, clean indoor facilities to sleep, eat, and access social services. Activists say such moves make it harder for the homeless to survive, with one advocate laying the measures to “compassion fatigue.”
“People are getting frustrated and getting angry at the issue,” said Neil Donovan head of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The person who is asking for money outside a coffee shop, the person who is camping just outside the ballpark, the chronically homeless are getting the brunt of this anger.”