Council says no to feeding the hungry in city parking lot

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 11:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 11:57 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The group, Crazy Faith Ministries, has been hosting homeless feeds inside a city parking lot located at State Avenue NE and Washington Street NE in Olympia. Tuesday night the city council said the group must stop because it is not safe to use the location in that way.
 
Members of the faith-based group arrived at city hall with signs in hand, protesting the city's position. Ben Charles Jr. said he was leading the fight.
 
"It is a fight for our rights to gather and support our street family right where they are at," said Charles.
 
Every Thursday and Saturday night, Crazy Faith Ministries has been feeding the hungry, but some businesses reportedly complained to the city about the group leaving litter behind. There were also claims that the gatherings led to traffic concerns, an increase in panhandling, and a decrease in sales for nearby shops.
 
"That has not been even remotely close to true," said Charles. "It is just a smoke show."
 
Despite protests, city council did not waiver. 
 
"We think the location is unsafe. It is in the middle of two busy streets, We have other users who can not use the lot," said City Manager Steve Hall.
 
Hall said the feed is a good thing, but the chosen location is not, so the group needs to move. 
 
At Tuesday night's council meeting, it was confirmed that a city permit is needed to hold functions in the parking lot. Breaking the rules could result in jail time or fines. So far, Crazy Faith Ministries has not faced any penalties. Hall said he would like to work with the group to find a new location that works well for the community.

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