Fort Lauderdale Cracks Down On How Groups Can Give Food To The Homeless

Oct 22, 2014

Fort Lauderdale is considering cracking down on how the organizations feed the homeless out on the sidewalks.
Credit Creative Commons via Flickr / Wicker Paradise (https://flic.kr/p/ecyRbQ)

UPDATE Oct. 22, 12 p.m.: The regulations passed by a four-one commission vote around 3:30 Wednesday morning. 

Adding to crackdowns on where homeless people in Fort Lauderdale can sleep, go to the bathroom, and store their belongings, the city is now attempting to regulate how outside organizations provide food to them.

Several food providers who offer meals to the homeless on various days of the week will be blocked from serving food within 500 feet of residential buildings, and will have to provide hand washing as well as portable toilet facilities.

Arnold Abbott has been feeding the homeless for 23 years with his organization Love Thy Neighbor. He calls these proposed restrictions irresponsible.

“They can’t just run roughshod over the homeless as they’ve been doing,” he says. “They’re trying to rid Fort Lauderdale of all the homeless."

Abbot sued the city over 15 years ago for trying to stop his feeding service. The court sided with Abbot, saying he has a right to continue until the city found an alternative site to provide the homeless with food, which it has yet to do.

But Lee Feldman, Fort Lauderdale’s city manager, says these regulations are a matter of protection.

“It’s important for the public safety, including the safety of homeless individuals as well as the people who are serving them, to make sure that when they are receiving social services such as food, that they're done in a proper, sanitary fashion,” Feldman says. “We’re not trying to criminalize homelessness.”