Swift Response After Council Member Suggests A Misdemeanor For Giving Directly To Homeless

CHARLOTTE, NC – Push back on social media and from people who work closely with the homeless following comments from a Charlotte city council member who suggested penalizing people who hand out food and money directly to those on the streets.

“I thought it was one of the most tone-def things I’ve ever heard in politics,” said Stacy Phillips.

Phillips is a Huntersville town commissioner and has spent more than a decade working to support people experiencing homelessness.

“I’ve watched so many people over the years do kind things just because that’s in their spirit and we’re a community,” said Phillips.

She says elected leaders aren’t doing enough to address homelessness in the county and that penalizing people for delivering money or meals isn’t the way to go.

“If that is how someone wants to spend their personal finances to help another human; you can’t police kindness,” said Phillips.

“I think we need a heavier dose of tough love,” said Charlotte city council member Tariq Bokhari during the council meeting Monday night.

Bokhari expressed frustration that the homeless issue in Charlotte has only gotten worse in recent years. And he took aim at people who give directly to those on the street.

“They’re only making themselves feel good. They’re hurting the ultimate folks. Perhaps we explore making that a misdemeanor. We have to do something different or we’re never going to get ahead of it,” said Bokhari.

He says the city needs to think outside the box and be bold.

“We have a lot of resources to help with this. We have a system to enter in, somehow the people out there in large part aren’t making it into the system,” explained Bokhari.

The response was swift from some on council.

“That’s something that I would never support especially when there is so many systemic barriers for individuals who are homeless,” said Council member Renee Johnson.

And county commissioner Pat Cotham, who has spent countless nights handing out meals, blankets, and other supplies to homeless people.

She jokingly tweeted..

“Headed to the slammer for multiple violations of hot sandwiches, ding dongs, assorted cokes, cips, blankets, tents, bus tickets, socks, hand warmers, rain ponchos, hats, gloves, hoodies, and hugs.. #needbailmoney.”