Charlotte city councilman suggests misdemeanor charge for individuals donating to homeless population

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte City council member’s comments about helping the homeless community are getting some backlash.

During a council business meeting on Monday, District 6 council member Tariq Bokhari suggested looking into making it a misdemeanor for individual people to donate directly to homeless people.

“People aren’t getting it and they’re still bringing food and money and resources directly to the folks that are out there right now. They’re only making themselves feel good, they’re hurting the ultimate folks, perhaps we explore making that a misdemeanor,” Bokhari said.

Charlotte Center City partners were making a presentation Monday at the business meeting. Part of the presentation focused on the 2025 homeless strategy.

Charlotte city council member Tariq Bokhari says there’s been a lot of work done to help the homeless but adds some people are doing more harm than good.

District 4 council member Renee Johnson disagreed with his idea to charge people for making donations. She says there are systemic factors that need to be considered such as mental health.

“That’s something that I would never support especially when there’s so many systemic barriers for individuals who are homeless,” Johnson said. “I just didn’t want to leave that comment hanging - make that a misdemeanor to help individuals who are homeless, cause everyone needs a little help sometimes.”

Kenya Joseph with Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition agreed saying helping someone else in any form shouldn’t be a crime.

“It lacks humanity. In what world when we as a society are at a place where we would criminalize the act of humanity, care, and consideration and compassion for others in any way, shape, or form - there’s a huge problem,” Joseph said.

Mecklenburg County’s Public Health Director issued an abatement order in February to Tent City residents after a growing rat infestation. County leaders say part of that was due to an overwhelming amount of food donations.

Bokhari suggests individuals work with organizations instead.

“I think we need a heavier dose of tough love amongst this community especially amongst those who continually give money, and food, and clothing directly to these folks instead of giving them to the organizations that are designed to help them,” Bokhari

Joseph encourages people who want to help to reach out to organizations and see what is needed.

“There’s room for everyone in a way that’s a little bit more orderly and organized so that we don’t see the quote-on-quote downsides of overgiving either as we potentially saw in what happened in February,” Joseph said.

WBTV also spoke to Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham who said she was troubled by the comments especially since she actively helps the homeless community.

Bokhari told WBTV he was not interested in commenting on his remarks made at the meeting.

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.