Lancaster wants to clamp down on groups feeding the homeless

glimpse to a controversial Lancaster City Council meeting this week, Pastor David Cowan stepped into the lectern.

The Antelope Valley town had suggested changes to the Municipal Code that would radically limit how charitable groups such as his church might feed homeless men and women in public areas.

This angered very good Samaritans such as Cowan, who invested the assembly criticizing the proposition as officials such as Mayor R. Rex Parris attempted to silence audience members by threatening to eject them when they spoke out of turn.

“When we find someone that has need, it is our obligation to choose what they have to them,” Cowan stated as cheers went up through the four-hour assembly, which was frequently controversial. “I must go wherever the requirement is. The requirement may be up beneath a bridge. The requirement may be at a brook. The requirement may be everywhere.”

Speaker after speaker expressed similar complaints regarding the measure.

During time, counties and cities throughout the nation have instituted restrictions like those suggested in Lancaster. The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty recently researched 187 cities throughout the nation and found that 9 percent had some kind of a ban on food consumption, a rise from when it last explored the topic 2016.

Last year, El Cajon instituted and then hauled back a ban on feeding the displaced amid a hepatitis A outbreak. In that San Diego suburb, 12 individuals were cited for violating the ban.

Following the outcry at Lancaster, the City Council headed by Parris — that the town’s longtime outspoken mayor — postponed a vote on the suggestion. But he insisted that the council could reevaluate the step soon to be able to attract more structure to the food has been distributed to homeless men and women.

Roberta Massie, 63, sits in a chair at her encampment in Lancaster

Roberta Massie, 63, sits at a seat at her encampment at Lancaster. “This is where you wind up: the dreadful, barren desert,” Massie said. She was homeless for five decades; L.A. Family Housing managed to discover her home in October 2018.

(Genaro Molina / / Los Angeles Times)

Parris said officials could require a while to examine the matter and come up with a new strategy.

The edition of the ordinance which has been shelved could have required volunteer classes to acquire licenses to set up shop in some specific pieces of public parks, cover rental fees and receive a certificate in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Proponents of the measure said they fear about food-borne disorders that may stem from these types of forces and mounds of garbage that may be left behind. The 2019 Los Angeles County homeless count located only underneath 3,300 homeless individuals living in the Antelope Valley, which comprises Lancaster and Palmdale. This was up 3 percent by 2018.

The City Council meeting”was not a great picture, I will provide you ,” Parris said. “We are waiting for a catastrophe to happen when you have countless individuals being served meals from the exact same pot with no oversight whatsoever, oftentimes from the desert or in a park”

Opponents of the proposal say it is only another method to criminalize homelessness. They also criticized the methods by which Parris has talked about homeless individuals previously. Following the displaced count came out this season, Parris said citizens should arm themselves from violent displaced folks.

The town will shortly open a centre which will contain about 100 units of permanent supportive housing along with bridge home.

Advocates say Lancaster has been an inhospitable environment for displaced individuals as a consequence of excessively extensive ordinances against loitering and panhandling.

This suggestion goes a step farther.

Ruth Sanchez, 45, resides in neighboring Palmdale but had been in the meeting Tuesday. For the previous seven decades, she’s gone with a set of volunteers yearly to hand out food and requirements such as blankets and socks.

“It was great of this community to come together and reveal they do not feel this way,” she explained of the resistance that introduced itself in the assembly. “This isn’t about the garbage. This is all about criminalizing the unhoused and attempting to punish us helping.”

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, shown in 2017

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, revealed in 2017, supports an ordinance that will place limitations on charitable groups’ feeding of displaced individuals within the city.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Sanchez explained that when they move outside, the volunteers eat the meals they are committing to the displaced people and haven’t gotten ill — a point made by many different speakers throughout the council meeting. 1 speaker said that it was hypocritical for the town to shut blocks to get a farmers market however state that feeding displaced individuals could block city sidewalks.

Last calendar year, the country enacted a law which laid out a brand new means to govern charitable feeding. Underneath it, neighborhood charities need to enroll and pay a commission of $118 into the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

That legislation also sets guidelines for how and in which the food ought to be ready and distributed. It is uncertain how many volunteer teams are in fact adhering to those guidelines.

Julia Devanthery, staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the town could be better served trying to help instruct and direct citizens to become compliant with all the state rules which are already on the books. On the contrary, it would radically limit where and how people can help the homeless,” she said.

“We’ve received complaints from several classes in Southern California which do get harassed by local authorities where their actions face disturbance,” she said, although she declined to offer certain examples. “We’ve been involved in cases such as this over recent years. This is possibly the most flagrant example I have seen”

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