Scouring for his next meal in a dumpster downtown, a homeless man is ticketed by Houston Police. Now, opponents point to the citation as validation of arguments against the city’s homeless feeding ordinance.
NEWS 92 FM’s Norm Uhl has more:
Cited for “disturbing the contents of a garbage can in downtown central business district,” the 44-year-old Caucasian man is known only as K.J., in a redacted ticket issued by police the morning of March 7.
But now, he is quickly becoming a symbol of how the city’s 2012 feeding ordinance victimizes the poor, says Joe Ablaza, an opponent of the policy.
K.J. is a homeless veteran forced to dumpster dive for food where he once relied on the kindness of strangers. And now, even that source of food is in jeopardy, he says.
“What little dignity this man has continues to be assaulted by the uncompassionate leadership of this city,” Ablaza writes, in a Facebook post since shared over 400 times since Sunday afternoon.
The voluntary homeless feeding ordinance was passed last April in a 11-6 vote by Houston City Council. The program moves for registration of formal and informal food service organizations, free food handling training by the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, and coordination of locations and times of feeding.
Registrants are also required to obtain the consent of public or private property owners before distributing food.
Councilman James Rodriguez, who represents District I, told the Houston Chronicle the policy was meant to “treat our homeless with dignity, to be more efficient and to protect public property.”
Ablaza and other opponents aren’t buying it, however, saying Mayor Annise Parker has forced the homeless into a difficult situation.
Chris Carmona, a candidate for Council At-Large Position 3, said Parker did not allow residents to vote on the issue and is “[j]ust another example of Big Brother policies.”
Meanwhile, as some are embroiled in the politics of the issue, others are sharing concern for the well-being of K.J. and others like him.
Republican activist Jason Baldwin, of Houston, took to Twitter Sunday seeking information about K.J.’s identity so he could offer him a warm meal.
K.J. is expected to appear in court on April 10th.
Stay with NEWS 92 FM as we bring you more on this developing story…
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