A Philadelphia religious charity is set on helping the homeless — come hell or high water.
Chosen 300 Ministries is back on the streets providing food for homeless people after a judge has halted enforcement of a homeless feeding ban for about four months, NBC Philadelphia reports.
And the group says they’re not about to stop.
Even if the judge ultimately upholds the ban, Reverend Brian Jenkins, head of Chosen 300 Ministries, says he is not going to stop giving food to the homeless. He said it’s his calling, NBC Philadelphia reports.
“We’re going to break the law, in the city’s view were breaking the law. In our view, it’s the command of Christ,” he told the news outlet.
Opponents of the ban say the city is trying to remove homeless from the metropolitan area’s parkway. Chosen 300 is one of four charities that sued the city of Philadelphia when it banned outdoor feeding of the homeless, according to NBC.
Mayor Michael Nutter says the effort is meant to get homeless people indoors, ensuring physical and mental health treatment as well as food, according to Reuters.
“Many are not just hungry,” Nutter said. “They have other needs.”
Opponents think the law violates the rights of freedom of association and religion, while also taking a toll on the poor. One organizer, Jason Mercado, who was once homeless, says the feedings also have a spiritual impact on the people he serves, according to NBC.
This news comes as cities across the country are taking measures that are perceived by opponents as criminalizing homelessness.
Cities including Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and more than 50 others have adopted anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, the Religion News Service reports.
“We think that criminalization measures such as these are counterproductive. Rather than address the root cause of homelessness, they perpetuate homelessness,” said Heather Johnson, a civil rights attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness Poverty.
But James Brooks, the National League of Cities’ program director for community development and infrastructure, says he agrees with Philadelphia’s approach to banning public feeding. The nonprofit, which helps city leaders improve their communities, says it’s a holistic way to tackle homelessness, the Religion News Service reports.
“Cities have an obligation not only to the people in the parks, but to people in the wider community to prevent a public health problem,” Brooks said.
Disagree with Mayor Nutter’s proposed measure? Sign the petition opposing his ban on feeding homeless people in city parks here.
To help Philadelphia’s homeless population, consider donating to Chosen 300. Learn more here.
Related on HuffPost:
FILE – In this March 8, 2012 file photo Mayor Michael Nutter delivers his budget address to city council at City Hall in Philadelphia. Nutter testified in federal court on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, that the city’s ban on outdoor feeding of the homeless in Philadelphia’s parks is part of a broader strategy to combat homelessness, not an attempt to hide them from a tourist area where many of the city’s most popular museums are located. Four religious groups have challenged the ban, saying it infringes on their rights to freely assemble and practice their religion. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Pastor Brian Jenkins, of Chosen 300 Ministries, speaks during a Philadelphia Department of Public Health hearing regarding regulations banning outdoor food distribution Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People receive food in front of the building before a Philadelphia Department of Public Health hearing regarding regulations banning outdoor food distribution Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A man holds a sign during a Philadelphia Department of Public Health hearing in reference to regulations banning outdoor food distribution Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)