As Houstonians prepare to "give thanks," some are questioning the city's efforts to help those in need.
The city in recent years has passed ordinances discouraging panhandling and homeless encampments. A legal challenge is currently preventing the city from enforcing it.
“Compassion has to weigh-in, but so does public safety, and the people living in those neighborhoods are crying out for us to help them because they don't feel safe with people prowling through their neighborhoods,” says Council member Michael Kubosh.
However, he says many of the city's homeless reject offers for shelter over fears they'll lose their freedom to live as they choose.
“Even if you stay in a hotel, they may not allow you to smoke or to do the things you want to do,” he says. “So, consequently many folks just don't want to submit to any of those rules and they want to live on the streets.”
Kubosh disagrees though, with the previous mayor's efforts to criminalize passing out food to the homeless.
“We should have the right to feed people and not be criminalized if we feed more than five at a time, it just doesn't make sense,” he says. “I have always opposed it, and I still oppose it.”
Thousands of people signed petitions to place the issue on the ballot, but the campaign stalled when the city clerk rejected them.