Newark moves to restrict feeding unhoused people in public spaces

Homeless folks who once were able to count on a hot meal from volunteers at Peter Francisco Park in Newark, New Jersey, may no longer have that option. The city is making efforts to curb free food giveaways, The New York Times reports. Just before Thanksgiving, city officials sent word to churches and relief groups that it was banning the act of feeding unhoused people in public places. When Times reporters began inquiring, the newspaper says the city shifted its stance, saying groups would now require a permit. Newark isn’t singular in this act. At least 17 cities in the nation either prohibit giving away free food in public or require permits. The city says it wants to ensure the food being distributed is safe, and that giveaways can encourage more people to stay on the street. Although officials have been in talks over a ban for the past five years, the news comes on the back of preparation for a $190M makeover of Newark Penn Station—located just in front of Francisco Park. Shift to Oakland, California, and a different picture emerges. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that almost two dozen restaurants will add a 1 percent surcharge to customers’ bills next year to help feed the city’s unhoused communities. The restaurants can void the nominal fee if a patron protests. —Safiya Charles