Homeless ordinances cross a line

Corey Color WEB

Cory Spiers

Have you ever thought of homelessness as crime?

The city council of Columbia, S.C., voted unanimously to criminalize homelessness on Aug. 14, according to the Huffington Post.

Councilman Cameron Runyan told WISTV that the move is meant to serve as a stopgap for a “problem that has plagued (Columbia) for a generation and a half, at least.”

It seems to me that this is not the best method of remedying the problem. Would it not be more appropriate to offer programs and assistance for these people to get jobs and leave the streets?

Columbia isn’t alone in their efforts to demonize homelessness, however.

Love Wins Ministries attempted to hand out free, hot breakfast to the homeless in Moore Square in Raleigh on Saturday morning, according to the ministry’s official blog.

Three officers from the Raleigh Police Department stopped the charity and informed the volunteers that if they continued to attempt the distribution of food, they would be arrested for giving out food in an open, public area rather than a private establishment with a license.

If you tried to go out and volunteer to help others and you were threatened with jail time, what exactly would you think?

This puzzling trend seems to be very new. The ministry blog also mentioned that they had distributed food to the area homeless people for more than six years with no issues until now.

This alarmingly seems to point to not only the illegalization of homelessness, but also the elimination or hindrance of assistance from kind-hearted volunteers.

It seems that actions like these are sending mixed messages to willing volunteers. Is it not our individual right to help out other human beings who are in need?

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina is working to meet the temporary long-term needs of homeless residents as part of a statewide 10-year plan to end homelessness. The plan cites “aggressive prevention strategies and planning” as well as more permanent supported housing and individual plans for each county.

Developments such as these are a step in the right direction.

Perhaps it is time that councilman Runyan and the rest of the Columbia City Council take a look at the steps North Carolina is taking, besides the debacle in Raleigh, to remedy the issue of homelessness.

Spiers, a journalism major from Charlotte, is the opinion editor.