The Little Rock Board of Directors voted tonight to table for eight weeks an ordinance that homeless advocates say would severely limit the ability of charities to feed homeless people in city parks. Before the ordinance was punted, Vice Mayor Kathy Webb proposed a nine-member commission to study the issue and make recommendations to the board.
The ordinance as written would have placed a number of stipulations on feeding programs serving more than 25 people in city parks, including requiring a $100 deposit, a permit, and limiting the total number of feeding permits a group or individual could seek per year at six.
Webb said that she has been to Austin to study what that city has done with regard to the issue of homelessness and providing services to the homeless. “We all know there’s not a one size fits all program that we can do,” Webb said, “but we do know there are best practices in other cities that we can try to replicate here.” Webb then proposed the establishment of a nine-member commission to study the issue for 45 days and make recommendations.
Webb proposed that the commission be facilitated by assistant city manager James Jones, with two members from the Homeless Coalition, and one each from the Interfaith Alliance, Little Rock Parks and Recreation, Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, The Downtown Partnership, Little Rock Police Department, Clinton Presidential Center and business owners in the River Market District. Each group will choose their own representative.
Director Joan Adcock asked that the commission be expanded by two seats, to allow for members who are either homeless or work with the homeless. Her request drew a round of applause from the people in attendance.
Soon after, the ordinance was tabled for 8 weeks on a voice vote. It will come back up in early July.