By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two months after Mayor Michael Nutter announced a ban on public feeding of the homeless on the Ben Franklin Parkway the new policy has yet to take effect.
Many homeless who take advantage of the generosity of volunteers feeding them along the parkway say the ban is all about the money. Many of them do not believe the Nutter administration’s claim that the restrictions have nothing to do with the newly constructed Barnes Museum and its visitors.
“It’s all about the Barnes. That’s what this ban is all about. It’s the Barnes Museum. It’s all the visitors to the Barnes to see all of us out here.”
“A lot of tourists, when they come, they don’t want to see homeless and people feeding, but I feel though that’s wrong because a lot of us, before we were homeless, were tax-paying citizens. And now that we’re not tax-paying citizens, we don’t have a say so in the matter.”
Many homeless in line for lunch say banning feeding efforts on the parkway will spark an increase in panhandling.
“Right now, a lot of people refuse to panhandle because they can come out here and stand in line and they can get a free meal, but if they stop that, there’s going be a lot more people panhandling and harassing city folks asking them for money so they can eat.”
Craig Stroman, CEO and founder of “We Feed the Homeless Philly,” a grass roots non-profit organization, says moving meal distribution outside City Hall, as proposed by the city, isn’t going to work.
“Because one, it will seem they are being herded like cattle to a specific place,” says Stroman. “And number two, we have some mental health issues out here. A lot of people don’t want to feel like they are in a confined space.”
According to the Nutter administration, the ban could go into effect as early as June 1st.