Sister Mary Scullion, cofounder of Project HOME and an influential voice on the issue of homelessness, has withdrawn her support of Mayor Nutter’s ban on public feedings in parks until the city comes up with a viable plan for moving meals for the homeless indoors.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the mayor, Scullion said the new rules that took effect Friday amount to a "ban on street feeding," given the absence of additional indoor venues for providing meals to people.
After two warnings, the city intends to fine groups that serve free meals to homeless individuals in open space that belongs to the Fairmount Park system.
"We respectfully request that the ban on street feeding in Fairmount Park not be enforced until appropriate quality dining centers are in place," Scullion said.
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, declined to comment on the letter.
When Nutter announced the controversial new regulations this spring, Scullion publicly offered her provisional support. Many providers of services to the homeless agree with the mayor that an indoor setting is more dignified and gives them a better way to address some of the other needs of homeless individuals. A majority of the people who live on the streets suffer from addictions and mental illness.
"The reality is that the proposed service-enriched dining centers are not yet in place," Scullion said. "Those on the streets in need of food do not yet have the appropriate alternatives."