Cities set limits on serving food to homeless peopleCities are cracking down on charities that feed the homeless, adopting rules that restrict food giveaways to certain locations, require charities to get permits or limit the number of free meals they can provide.
Orlando, Dallas, Las Vegas and Wilmington, N.C., began enforcing such laws last year. Some are being challenged.
Last November, a federal judge blocked the Las Vegas law banning food giveaways to the poor in city parks. In Dallas, two ministries are suing, arguing that the law violates religious freedom.DALLAS HOMLESS: The 'Lord's table' deemed illegal
"Going after the volunteers is new," says Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "They think that by not feeding people, it will make the homeless people leave."
City officials say the rules were prompted by complaints about crime and food safety. Some say they want control over locations so homeless people can also get services such as addiction counseling and job training.
"The feedings were happening several times a week" in parking lots and sidewalks downtown, says Dewey Harris, director of Wilmington's Community Services Department. "A lot of the merchants said, 'We feel uncomfortable when you have all these homeless being fed downtown when we're trying to attract tourists.' "
Last March, the city restricted meals on public property to designated locations and required a permit. One spot has been approved: a city park parking lot.
Dallas also limits outdoor food giveaways to approved locations. Those distributing food must take a food-handling course and get a city permit, says Karen Rayzer, director of environmental and health services. A violator can be fined $2,000.
Orlando adopted an ordinance in July that requires a permit to serve more than 25 people in a park within 2 miles of City Hall, where most food giveaways were taking place. An applicant may serve twice a year in each park.
"This ordinance wasn't established to ban feeding," says city spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh. She acknowledges that some groups ignore the law.
City Commissioner Robert Stuart voted against it. He is executive director of the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, which feeds 325 homeless people a day but, as private property, is not affected.
"It's not fair to take a population without a home and make them criminals," he says. "And I don't think we ought to be limiting the opportunity to help others."
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
High rates of mental health disorders are being diagnosed among US military personnel soon after being released from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to investigators in San Francisco.
They estimate that out of 103,788 returning veterans, 25 percent had a mental health diagnosis, and more than half of these patients had two or more distinct conditions.
Those most at risk were the youngest soldiers and those with the most combat exposure, Dr. Karen H. Seal at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and associates report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Seal's group based their findings on records of US veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan who were seen at VA health care facilities between September 2001 and September 2005.
In addition to the high rate of mental health disorders, about one in three (31 percent) were affected by at least one psychosocial diagnosis.
The most frequent diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder. Other diagnoses included anxiety disorder, depression, substance use disorder, or other behavioral or psychosocial problem.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Nearly a third of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who received care from Veterans Affairs between 2001 and 2005 were diagnosed with mental health or psychosocial ills, a study published Monday has concluded.
The study was published in the March 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine and carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center.
They looked at data from 103,788 veterans; about 13 percent of them women, 54 percent under age 30, nearly a third minorities and nearly half veterans of the National Guard or Reserves.
Of the total, 32,010 (31 percent) were diagnosed with mental health and/or psychosocial problems, including 25,658 who received mental health diagnoses. More than half (56 percent) were diagnosed with two or more disorders. . . . .
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn't get out of the way of a hurricane.Read more here. And if you've not seen Spike Lee's documentary, When the Levees Broke, it's astonishing, powerful stuff. Maybe someone should arrange a screening?
UPDATE: More New Orleans, from The New Yorker.