OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The church group “Crazy Faith Ministries” defies the City of Olympia and feeds hundreds of homeless people in a parking lot Thursday night.
City officials claim the event is unsafe because of large crowds not obeying traffic laws. Area businesses complain the feed is a magnet for trash and trouble in the downtown area.
“This is the best corner in town, at least it used to be,” said Randy Morlan, Owner of Euphorium Salon & Spa.
Morlan’s salon is a block away from where the crowd congregates for free meals on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“We’ve seen drug deals, I’ve seen defecation in my entrances, which is not good for business,” he said.
Business has dipped nearly 20% with many customers avoiding appointments after dark because they don’t feel safe.
“They’re taking more than they should from our community and the downtown area,” said Morlan.
Volunteers served up to 700 warm meals, for many homeless, it’s the closest thing to dinner in days.
“That kills me, we often have to send people away because we run out of food,” said Michelle Jorgensen, a volunteer.
While Jorgensen knows the feed isn’t popular with area businesses, she says it’s necessary. Despite offers to host it elsewhere, organizers insist to have it in the parking lot.
“It’s important. I don’t want it taken away from us,” she said.
While some aren’t happy with the event, other business owners like Jamie Mathias feel the opposite. Mathias, who owns a local Papa Johns restaurant, donated pizza and passed out free socks to those in attendance.
While Morlan supports the church group’s efforts, he thinks there’s a better place to hold the feed.
“We need to make Olympia safe, clean and maybe a little more profitable for the people that are trying so hard to make it a special place,” he said.
Up to 400 people are expected at the group’s next feed Saturday morning. While the city won’t stop it, rules are now being considered to regulate events held in city parking lots.