ATLANTA - Atlanta police have been handing out the flyers across the city telling people that a permit is needed to give food to the homeless.
The fliers are being used as a warning to those trying to help the homeless. Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon found one group who received more than a warning.
Instead of getting praise for helping Atlanta’s homeless, Adele Maclean and Marlon Kautz say they’re getting punished for it.
“We’re looking at a citation,” Maclean said.
Channel 2 Action News’ cameras were there when police wrote the pair a ticket for handing out food to the homeless without a permit.
“I mean outrageous, right? Of all the things to be punished for, giving free food to people who are hungry?” Maclean told Wilfon.
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The pair said they give food to the homeless every Sunday in Atlanta’s Woodruff Park, and have never heard of needing a permit.
“It seems ridiculous to me that they would be spending their time and resources on stopping people from feeding the homeless,” said Maclean said.
Wilfon contacted the city to find out what was going on. A city representative said the Fulton and DeKalb County boards of health both require permits to give food to the homeless and the city of Atlanta enforces those requirements.
While the requirements aren’t new, Atlanta police told Wilfon they recently started more strictly enforcing them for several reasons.
The city believes there are better ways to help the homeless, like getting them into programs and shelters. They are also taking issue with the litter the food distributions leave behind.
Ben Parks, who runs a nonprofit for the homeless, told Wilfon he can see the argument from both sides.
“I understand where the city’s coming from. I understand when they see groups come in and leave a bunch of trash behind," Parks said.
While this ordinance is also on the books in DeKalb County, DeKalb police told Wilfon Wednesday that they are not using police to enforce it. They’re leaving that up to the health department.