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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Do not feed the people... in Miami, Florida

April 02 2010
The City Commission will consider banning untrained people from giving food to rough sleepers

In the US, Miami's local council, the Miami City Commission, will consider a proposal next month that could prevent untrained people from giving food to rough sleepers.

The measure is intended to cut down on litter and ensure the safety of the food eaten by homeless people, has reported.

According to David Karsh, a spokesman for the Miami Downtown Development Authority, an independent public agency supporting the proposal, local people are complaining about the mess left by rough sleepers.

He says: "The business owners and residents in the area are complaining that there's just an incredible mess in the area once the group really is an immense mess that's left behind."

The rule wouldn't prevent those who wanted to feed local homeless people from doing so, but they would have to be trained first, meaning members of the public could not simply give up part of their lunch to help someone they met on the street.

If the rule is accepted, anybody who breaks it would receive first a warning and then fines of up to $300 (£200) for further offences.

Karsh said: "The ordinance is not by any means meant to discourage people from feeding homeless people... Anybody can do it." He went on to say that homeless advocacy groups support the measure.

However, Benjamin Burton, executive director for the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, opposed the move, saying it could "lead to [the] criminalising of the poor, working poor and homeless, or those who seek to provide vital assistance during these dire economic times".

He added: "Theses ordinances do nothing to address the systemic underlying causes of poverty and homelessness in Miami."