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July 05, 2016

Mayor Kenney lifts dormant ban on feeding homeless in public parks

It had remained on the books since federal court issued injunction

Hunger Charities
012115_Homeless-1.jpg Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A homeless man in Center City Philadelphia.

Mayor Jim Kenney is lifting a four-year old ban on feeding the homeless in city parks.

The ban, put in place in March 2012 by former Mayor Michael Nutter, was challenged in federal court by the religious organizations who provided food and other services to the homeless and hungry in Philadelphia. On Aug. 9, 2012, a federal court issued an injunction to prevent its implementation. 

The groups have fed the hungry in city parks since that ruling.

The city and the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit are seeking to have the injunction be dismissed, according to a statement from the mayor's office.   

“The solution to homelessness and hunger is not to stigmatize it and hide it from public view,” said Kenney, in the statement. “I share with the plaintiffs a steadfast commitment to serve those in need and, together with other homeless advocates, will continue to pursue short and long-term approaches to improve food distribution and other vital services and, ultimately, to end hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia.”

In 2013, Philadelphia established the Food Access Collaborative to work with the plaintiffs and others to improve the availability of food and related services in healthy and safe environments, according to the mayor's office. 

At the same time, Philadelphia recognized the important contributions of both religious and secular organizations in the fight against hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia, partnering with them on a number of different initiatives.  

“All parties look forward to a spirit of cooperation in the struggle to ensure that all residents of Philadelphia are provided adequate housing and food," Paul Messing, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal civil rights case, said in a statement.