Should it be a crime to give food to the homeless?

In a growing number of American cities, giving food to a homeless person is a crime.

According to a report released this week, 21 cities have passed measures aimed at restricting the people who feed the homeless over the last year and a half. Ten more cities are considering it, NPR reports.

Cities like Fort Lauderdale aren’t throwing people in jail for feeding the homeless or being homeless. But often, they’re creating more ways to impose fines.

And yet, Stoops argues that the measures will ultimately be ineffective in addressing the real problem: homelessness itself.

“Cities’ hope is that restricting sharing of food will somehow make [the] homeless disappear and go away,” (Michael)Stoops (of the National Coalition for the Homeless), tells The Salt. “But I can promise you that even if these ordinances are adopted, it’s not going to get rid of homelessness.”

In the Twin Cities, a campaign was launched to try to convince people to donate money or food to a food shelf rather than give it to the homeless. But none of the cities enacting or considering legislation to criminalize food distribution is in Minnesota.

National Coalition for the Homeless.

Here’s the report (.pdf).