”Honor Christ by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.”
- St. John Chrysostom
Last night, there were about 30 of us sitting and standing against the walls of the back room of the Teaful Bliss Cafe on 11th and Spring Garden in Philadelphia. We represented 15 to 20 different groups who serve the homeless and poor on the streets of Philadelphia in one fashion or another. We were there to be briefed from Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office and to discuss a unified response to Mayor Nutter’s decrees.
Councilwoman Blackwell introduced a bill to City Council that calls into question the mayor’s Park & Rec. Dept. outdoor feeding ban decree. This bill was cosigned by every member of city council. This will be formally introduced at Council on Thursday, April 12 at 10am. The public can be there to make 3 minute comments pertaining to the ban. I encourage all of our volunteers and supporters who live in Philadelphia to do so. Arrive early to get a spot on the schedule. City Council has to schedule hearings on the decree, since there have been objections to it. No actions may be taken and enforcement may be done until the results of these hearings are determined and the city council procedings have run their course.
Meanwhile, the budget process is starting and the state has cut their funding for social services for Philadelphia for next year by another $43 million. So to add the costs of enforcement, to say nothing of additional indoor space, Nutter’s plan is just looking financially unworkable.
So keep praying. These are all hopeful signs, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. We want to see these decrees dead. We have noted that the Mayor may have done us a huge favor and he may regret this (or, maybe not).He kicked a hornet’s nest when he messed with those who minister among the homeless. For decades, we have been working at this, each muddling through, trying to find the right time slot or the right corner. I have tried here and there to guide groups to have some sort of coordination through the years. We have changed nights and serving sites to better serve and not duplicate. Now, because of this battle, many of us are sitting, or standing, in the same room together, trying to find common ground and working on ways to improve our serve.