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Fort Lauderdale Commission puts restrictions on food sharing for homeless

Homeless advocates vow to break new law

The Fort Lauderdale Commission voted at 3:30 Wednesday morning to essentially outlaw humanitarian groups from giving the homeless and hungry food to eat in the public.
The Fort Lauderdale Commission voted at 3:30 Wednesday morning to essentially outlaw humanitarian groups from giving the homeless and hungry food to eat in the public.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Local 10 News investigator Bob Norman has the story on the vote that took place during the wee hours of Wednesday morning. This vote has homeless advocates vowing to break the law in Fort Lauderdale so they can keep sharing food with those who are hungry.

The Fort Lauderdale Commission voted at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to essentially outlaw humanitarian groups from giving the homeless and hungry food to eat in public.

"We're not doing any harm," said Duff Ullah. "We're not causing any harm, we're just feeding people who are hungry."

The new ordinance establishes new restrictions on food sharing. For example, if people want to feed the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, they now have to have a state certified food manager in attendance and provide port-a-potties.

The city of Fort Lauderdale is trying to eliminate groups like Food, Not Bombs and other religious organizations from sharing food with the homeless.

The new ordinance comes after the city recently passed laws to outlaw storage of personal belongings in public places and toughened laws against going to the bathroom in public, despite a dearth of public restrooms the homeless can use. Homeless advocate Raymond Del Papa says it's part of a sure-to-fail attempt by the commission to drive the homeless from the city.

"They think by creating these ordinances it's going to force the homeless to move elsewhere," Del Papa said.

But those who feed the homeless at places like Stranahan Park every week say the new law won't stop them and they say the issue is headed to court.

"We're not going to stop feeding homeless people, ever," homeless advocate Jeff Weinberger said. "You can arrest, you can do whatever you need to do. It's not going to stop."

Activists also say the new laws are unconstitutional and that the issue will ultimately be decided in a courtroom.