Friday, December 12, 2014

Dallas Eases Restrictions On Feeding of Homeless; Settles Lawsuit

Last year, a Texas federal district court held that Dallas'  Food Establishment Ordinance imposing strict requirements on organizations feeding the homeless violates the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (See prior posting.) On Wednesday Dallas City Council, as part of a  settlement of the lawsuit, adopted amendments lightening the burdens on those feeding the homeless.  As reported by Think Progress:
The original Dallas ordinance required charities that wished to feed the homeless to provide bathrooms and running water, effectively restricting the groups to a handful of sites rather than allowing them to go to where the need was greatest. It also required them to register with the city no matter how large or small their food program might be, with the threat of a $2,000 fine for violators.....
Instead of running water and hand-washing facilities, street feeding programs may now use hand sanitizer. They only need to notify the city if they plan to serve more than 75 people, and must abide by some basic food safety guidelines.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the city also voted to pay a total of $250,000 for damages and attorneys fees to to Big Hart Ministries Association and Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry.