Keith Brown El Talks Food Sharing Ordinance And Kansas City Urban Core Priorites
TKC NOTE: In the aftermath of a food sharing ordinance that was defeated, here's a few notes that still remain important from a local homeless advocate. Check it:
Notes On Food Sharing And Kansas City Priorities . . .
My name is Keith Brown El. I am here as a representative of the Kansas City Homeless Advisory Council and I do thank the members of this committee for affording me the opportunity to speak.
First of all, I have a question I would like to present:
Why do people who are not poor and have never been poor, think that they know more about what is in the best interest of the poor than poor people themselves? Some get into it because it can be a very lucrative business (if you know how to manipulate people and circumstances).
So they are in it for the money and are constantly looking opportunities to do this. The people who approached this counsel and asked you to pass this city ordinance fall into the category.
They have one of the highest non-approval ratings among the homeless of any group in this city and they have had this rating for quite some time. This is probably because they have this attitude that if they are providing homeless people with food, clothing and shelter then the people they are helping don't need to be treated with dignity but they are wrong. And what they have realized is that a lot of homeless people are now looking for ways to survive out on the streets without having to accept the services of people with that attitude.
This is why the homeless rate in this city is going up and clientele in some places which purport to help the homeless is going down. People who financially contribute to these causes are also getting tired of giving their money to groups and organizations that don't produce any results.
And so if these groups and organizations expect to keep receiving grants and donations then then they have to do something to try to eliminate the competition from other people providing services to the homeless out on street.
This is really what this ordinance is all about. Most people can see through it and many of us are outraged and appalled. We are outraged and appalled because of this and because the members of this city council seem to have their priorities seriously screwed up.
We have liquor stores and taverns on almost every corner of this city. These establishments do more than anything else to contribute to the cause of homeless and rundown neighborhoods.
They also generate large sums of money which benefit everyone except the poor and homeless and the poor and the homeless are the primary cause of tavern liquor store success.
The city allows these liquor stores and taverns to move into our communities and sell poison which causes people to become homeless. And then the homeless organizations have to figure out a way to feed these homeless people and try to get them off the street.
Now this city wants to pass an ordinance which says that if city officials find even so much as one paper sack with the name of a homeless organization on it, we will have to pay a fine. Yet, not one liquor store in this city has to pay a fine for the thousands of sacks of liquor they distribute. If anybody should be paying for classes and fines it should be the liquor establishments.
Now, I didn't come here to try to talk all day and I'm trying to get my point across with as few words as possible. But before I sit down I want to say this:
I am not a veteran myself nor have I fought in any of our wars. But I came here because I know there are a lot of hungry, homeless men and woman out here on the streets of Kansas City who have risked their lives for the country.
The next time I run into one of them I don't want to be put in a position and I don't think they deserve to be told, "I'm sorry, I can't feed you man, the city won't let me do it".
Thank you very much.