THEY WERE HUNGRY: And volunteers fed them. This particular meal was served outside City Hall in one of the periodic protests of city efforts to force homeless programs out of downtown.

A plan to establish a volunteer effort to feed homeless in the far southeastern corner of the city, well removed from downtown, has fallen apart as was inevitable.

Chelsea Boozer’s article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that after many meetings and much discussion a conclusion was reached by an ad hoc committee that comprehensive services, not meals, were the great need for the homeless. Meals are being provided elsewhere and little interest was shown in relocating them to a tent on the edge of town.

This well-intentioned committee was a product of the city’s ill-intentioned effort to make city parks off-limits to feeding programs for the homeless, particularly periodic meals under the Broadway Bridge.

Best quote in story was from the city hall bureaucrat in charge of homeless matters, James Jones. He commented, after someone cited mistrust of the city over the belief that its main interest was moving homeless out of downtown, “Perception is reality.’ He could have said reality is reality.

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The talk — NOW — of a central place to serve homeless is ironic in light of how many people saw the establishment of a day center way the heck out Springer (nee Confederate) Boulevard as a poorly disguised effort to get the homeless out of downtown in the first place.  Other cities have come up with comprehensive plans to meet the varied needs of the homeless and have found ways to do it where the homeless are found — not run a shuttle bus service to East Jesus.

Dark hints were dropped yesterday that the city will again try to lower the boom if good Christians insist on offering food to the hungry in a city park, particularly that “park” known as the asphalt parking lot soon to be reopened beneath the replacement Broadway Bridge. The same book that urges such deeds tells us that the needy are likely to be with us no matter what. But it’s a hard-hearted city that sets about punishing those who persist.