Feeding the Homeless is Illegal in Some Places

A person who is defined as a “deviant,” is someone whose behavior falls outside of society’s norms. You might think of criminals as people who are deviant, or you might think of people who wear bright hot pink pants to class, deviant! However, would you call someone feeding a homeless person on the street, as a “deviant” human being?


From Good Citizen to Misdemeanors or Jail

In January 2018, articles started flooding news stations about how in El Cajon, California, 9 citizens were charged with misdemeanor offenses after handing out food, clothes, shoes, and toiletries to the homeless people in their community. They were told that the El Cajon municipal code 1.23.010, prohibits “food sharing” in public spaces. Many of you readers might be surprised by this “illegal” act, but it is more common than you think. Sources indicate that over 70 cities in our nation have the exact same law that El Cajon holds: Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, and so many more.

But WHY are lawmakers creating these policies?

The shallow response from city officials describing the law, is that it is “bad for business.” But there is a deeper problem to this that meets the eye. It discourages the police, lawmakers, and city officials, from finding the empathy within themselves, to push business away from good humanity. This digs into a much darker topic of ideology—which I won’t go into in this article!

What message are we sending?  

Our society has put an automatic stereotype onto people who are homeless, instead of looking for positive solutions to fix a social issue. Five years ago, a Hawaii State Representative, Tom Bower created a “homelessness solution” to Hawaii by taking a sledgehammer to the shopping carts in our Aloha State. Seriously?

Screenshot of Tom Brower breaking a homeless person’s shopping cart as part of his campaign in 2013. Taken by Bruce Asato.


From destroying homeless encampments, to banning feeding the homeless, we are sending a terrible message to our community and our planet. Take action in your community and speak up! Personally, I’m the kind of person who would be proud of a misdemeanor for being a good citizen. Share this article and don’t let Honolulu fall under one of those 70 cities where helping the homeless is illegal.