In 25 years of writing off and on about poverty-fighting, I've noticed that Christians and Jews who read the Bible see homeless individuals as made in God’s image, but secular conservatives and secular liberals (with some exceptions) would prefer that they disappear. The difference is that secular conservatives forthrightly say so, sometimes in ugly ways, and secular liberals use more circuitous language to get to the same point.
A story on MyNorthwest.com left me wondering whether a current debate in liberal Seattle provides an example of that difference. City officials have told the Bread of Life Mission, which has passed out free food for more than 70 years, that it may no longer hand out meals at City Hall Park. Officials want to have only one outdoor meal site in the city, under the I-5 bridge, with Operation: Sack Lunch running it.
Bread of Life wants to continue it own program, so the Seattle Human Services Department has had to justify its plan to have a one-site-feeds-all site. MyNorthwest.com reports official David Takami’s four-fold rationale: The city is concerned about possible wasted food, litter left behind at parks, and volunteer safety, and wants to “control the nutritional value of what the homeless eat.”
Volunteer safety and wasted food could be problems, but after seven decades I suspect Bread of Life knows what it’s doing. Litter left behind at parks? Homeless individuals are capable of cleaning up after themselves. Nutritional value? Any fresh food is going to be better than the alternative, which is often dumpster diving.
We’ll have a WORLD reporter check this out, but those four reasons appear to be lame. I’ve seen in other cities a yearning to get homeless individuals out of sight of officials and tourists. Could Seattle be similar?