Being homeless in Columbia, South Carolina is so severe a crime that you can be jailed for it, so it’s no surprise that the city who hates the homeless is now making it impossible for good Samaritans to feed the homeless.
The point is to make it uncomfortable for the homeless to be downtown so that the city can hold people in a “facility” on the outskirts of town. The homeless shelter only has room for one in six of the city’s homeless.
Judith Turnipseed, founder of a group called “Food Not Bombs” has been feeding Columbia’s homeless for 12 years. Turnipseed says that she will now have to pay $120 dollars to feed the homeless because of an old-and-previously-not-enforced law that says you must pay a fee to be able to gather in the city’s parks if the number of people is over 25.
The problem with criminalizing homelessness is that people wouldn’t be homeless in the first place is they had options. Limiting the movement of the homeless only serves to limit their ability to earn money as well, making it impossible for them to improve their lives.
But improving the lives of the homeless is not Columbia’s goal. Making the homeless invisible to tourists and the working class is the goal. Susan Dunn, the legal director for the state’s Charleston-based ACLU chapter, is concerned that the “underlying design is that they want the homeless not to be visible in downtown Columbia,” Dunn said. “You can shuttle them somewhere or you can go to jail. That’s, in fact, an abuse of power.”