Garbage in, garbage out: unintended consequences of regulating homeless aid

A recent story on is probably the most absurd event I have read about in the last eight years and change that I have been posting to this blog.

Flash back to 2012, when Houston’s city council approved an ordinance to regulate the distribution of food and other necessities to the city’s homeless population. It was a law that doesn’t sit well with many in this city, myself included. I understand what the city is trying to do, but I have doubts this law is working the way it should. And the story linked above is one of the most fitting examples as to how these types of laws should not be used.

In an apparent response to someone calling in a complaint, several HPD officers arrived on the scene of a handout to some homeless people in the area along with a garbage truck. In complete disregard for not only Texan and Houstonian values, but also basic compassion and concern for human beings who are stuck in this city without a roof over their heads, they forced the homeless people who had received gifts from well-meaning people to throw them away.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t name the officers involved. I have to wonder though, what kind of person, cop or not, could take away food and survival items from people who have already lost their homes, and still look themselves in the mirror and sleep at night. How could a cop do something this disgraceful and still feel proud to put on the uniform and badge afterwards?

I would actually understand a bit more if they were to ticket or arrest the people handing out food, clothing, blankets, and other survival items. The reason being, is that gets this law in front of a jury, and the sooner we actually get a jury to nullify this bunch of legislative excrement, the better. Either way we get rid of it is fine by me–either an outright repeal by the city council, or by juries refusing to convict (or even judges refusing to convict, but I’m not exactly holding my breath for that).

I voted for Annise Parker, who was mayor when this excuse for a law was passed. Annise had a mostly great tenure as mayor of our fine city, and accomplished many good things. However, to say the least, this law was not one of them. I hope that our current city government can recognize the errors the previous administration made passing this law, and that doubling down on it is a huge blunder. Honestly, if this episode and similar anti-homeless actions are about “cleaning up” the city prior to hosting the Super Bowl in a few weeks, then I would rather Houston never host a Super Bowl again than have any more of them. And remember, it is cheaper to provide housing to the homeless than to maintain the status quo. (The linked story is not the only example.)