Pacific Beach man starts petition to stop local churches from giving free meals to homeless
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 09/20/17 - 03:41 PM | 26 26 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A homeless man in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Dave Schwab
A homeless man in Pacific Beach. / Photo by Dave Schwab
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A Pacific Beach man has launched a petition drive, currently with 100-plus signatures, calling for coastal churches to end near-daily homeless “feeds,” a practice which has reignited public debate over whether homeless need a hand out – or a hand up.

Matt Phillips, of North Crown Point, recently kicked-off his petition drive on change.org.

It states: “The weekly dinners for the homeless population in Pacific Beach are contributing to the complacency and habitual state of their homelessness. Because of this, it's logically apparent that this seems to be one of the primary reasons that we have such a population of homeless that never leave or attempt to get off the streets. Churches are enabling some of the very crime that plagues our seaside community. We exercise the right to demand an end to cooking the homeless dinners six days a week because it gives people the wrong idea. For too long has this transpired without accountability of the local churches and we demand immediate legitimate recognition of this petition as it accumulates in signatures.”

Phillips admitted he's been surprised by the immediate response his petition drive has kindled. He plans to submit signatures he's gathered to District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf and the City Council.

Phillips, 30, has been a Pacific Beach resident all his life. He claims the homeless problem “is getting worse and worse.”

A parent, Phillips believes the homeless feeds “aren't helping them or healing them. I see the same people (participating) year after year. It's just attracting a negative crowd of people in our neighborhood.”

Would ending free meals minimize problematic homelessness in PB?

“It would be a step in the right direction,” argued Phillips. “If you stop the feeds, you could lose half the (homeless) population.”

Phillips' petition drive to curb free meals in PB has resurrected the long-simmering debate over whether feeding helps — or harms — the homeless in the long term.

On Next Door social media for Pacific Beach, residents have been weighing in for the past several days on whether they agree or not with Phillip's petition proposal.

One of those people who chimed in was Susan Wilding.

“I have volunteered to feed hungry people at St. Andrews by the Sea for at least three years now,” Wilding said. “My experience has been the people who come regularly may have some mental illness ... They are thankful for our service and really enjoy, what is quite possibly, their only meal of the day.”

Of Phillips' efforts, Wilding commented: “Feeding the hungry is part of the Christian doctrine, and I am not sure that this petition will change any behavior by those churches that feel it is their calling to help those who are hungry with a meal. I do, however, caution those individuals who blame 'homeless' for crimes against the PB community.

“There are different subsets of homeless,” continued Wilding. “Some live in cars or RV’s, some have cheap apartments or rent rooms, some sleep in alcoves and bushes, and some run and steal from those living in the community. Some use drugs, some rummage in our trash cans for recyclables, some pick up our cast-offs to resell, some have to self-medicate because they are unable to afford and/or acquire healthcare.”

Wilding's witnessed some of these patrons of free meals get better.

“They get a bed in a shelter, they get clean clothes, they get medical help from the parishioners and clergy of these churches,” she noted. “It has been wonderful to see them come in, clean and clear-eyed, and grateful for the help and love given at these dinners. Because that is what love can be, a meal!”

But not everyone agrees with Wilding.

“We don't have shelters or other infrastructure to handle the homeless population here, so it doesn't make sense to hand out food,” said Tim Brock of PB Plaza. “You're guaranteed to have some people up where they aren't necessarily welcome. If the church, or some other organization, wants to also provide shelter, great idea. If not, the effort would probably be better spent somewhere with a full infrastructure for aid, not just food.”

Jill Davis Curtis of PB Southwest concurred with Brock.

“As hard hearted as it may seem, something has to be done about the crime rate in Pacific Beach, http://crimestats.arjis.org/default.aspx,” Davis Curtis said. “Pacific Beach crime rates are the highest (six to 10 times more) than 'any' other city in all aspects of crime … So, either we need to lock up a lot of people, or we need to move them out of the area and stop making Pacific Beach a haven for the homeless.”

Of the homeless hanging out, Davis Curtis said, “The library is a 'public' facility, yet it has become a daytime hotel for the homeless. You cannot go there without being overwhelmed with the homeless sleeping in all the comfortable lounge chairs where someone might like to sit and read. Sleeping in the library needs to be curtailed, as do peeing, pooping, and (sex) in the outside surrounding property.”

Davis Curtis added the homeless are wearing out their welcome for some in the community, including herself.

“We used to help the homeless whenever we could, but slowly but surely, we have become too scared to even interact with them,” she said. “It only takes one to follow you home and attempt to molest you. I'm terrified to walk down our alley and go into our garage alone. I've had more than one homeless individual follow me from the library. It is down right scary. We have to do something to make Pacific Beach less attractive. They would be much better off in areas where there is a myriad of resources to get themselves moving in a more healthy lifestyle, rather than hanging around the library and beach boardwalk.”  

Comments
(26)
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Bob Craig
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November 05, 2017
Anyone who is unable to care for themselves needs more than food or a blanket, which does act to enable and continue the condition.

Any person who comes in for assistance should be required to participate in some kind of counseling with the goal of getting them back on their feet by specifical addressing the root of the problem(s) that caused them to be homeless.

Failure to participate in a counseling program should then be cause to stop with the aid. Why would a person not want to participate in counseling geared to improve their lot in life?
PB Homeless Coalitio
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October 04, 2017
The amount of ugly hate-filled prejudice by uninformed resident is obvious & blatant. I particularly enjoyed “We exercise the right to demand “ a racist empowering himself with invented right & fake authority. That the news would honor this twisted person certainly appears as an greedy shallow DESTRUCTIVE effort to sell papers. America does not need ant additional spreading of divisiveness . . . the media should certainly be ashamed for their choice. Self-serving Lorie Zapf is the only councilperson who NEVER answers her constituents email . . so forget that.

Working with the P.B. Homeless Coalition I discovered that it would virtual be impossible for the homeless to be concerned about sex, as sex is the strongest motivation to get a paycheck.

The lounge chairs in the library have co-incidently been replaced by excruciatingly uncomfortable airport seating.

What crime statistics ? Yes I agree Los Angeles has more crime than Pacific Beach. Likewise Pacific Beach has more crime that Julian. Smart people know that the 2010 census of P.B. reveals there are 45,000 people crammed jammed into into this tiny mini-dorm community, so actually the PB crime RATE is one of the lowest in the city PER CAPITA !

& what does the crime rate have to do with the homeless ? The only street people that are criminals are the young bike thieves that are addicted to the semi-synthetic Oxycodone which has nothing to do with churches.

Some spoiled self-centered residents are not smart enough to grasp that it is IMPOSSIBLE for some humans to return to the work force. Odd, San Diego is a national leader with 8 corrupt / indicted and or jailed mayors stealing/ costing taxpayers 100s of millions & a police Department that was caught being “Corrupt from top-to-bottom” ( Channel 10 ) & you hypocritically said nothing about that.

Just as there are people physically unable to work, there are also humans with Down syndrome mongoloid retardation who are taken care of by taxes & by the churches. In addition, there are people who are severely emotionally or mentally incapable of retaining a job and are forced to live in the greatest poverty . . . that of not being allowed to rest your head somewhere & close your eyes without some twisted selfish fat spoiled frustrated busybody American calling the police . . . You should be ashamed.

Matthew Phillips
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October 07, 2017
Coalition what Coalition are you made up of? Reading what just came out of your mouth is far worse than ever has come out of mine. You should be ashamed youself. You are sub-consequently talking about yourself. You have such a hate towards upper middle class and wealthy people who you "arrogantly & maliciously" blame for societies downfalls and your own, when your immature and ugly ass can't stand to look yourself in the mirror because you having accomplished a damn thing in your life and because already in your late 30's you spent it all hanging out with drug addicted friends hep-c infested friends that are all dead or actually got a life. But you haven't because for some reason your unable to be a contributing member a society. Your alone and on the fringes of society and just want attention.

The difference between you and I is I'm giving you my phone number 940 2905. I will meet you anytime anywhere.

I got ever damn right in this country to speak my mind and help my community. I've been homeless so you dont know who the hell your talking about but given the ignorrant rant I just heard from you! I know just enough to know your an outcast I'm willing ask if you will say all that again to my face.
Pacific Beach UMC
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September 25, 2017
Matt, we'd love to chat with you more about your concerns. As members not only of the church but of the community, we join you in your concern for this beautiful part of San Diego. We would love the opportunity to speak with you to: 1) show that we are doing much more than just offering a free hand-out; 2) introduce you to some of our regular guests; and 3) seek ways to partner together for the benefit of Pacific Beach.
Matthew Phillips
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September 27, 2017
Pacific Beach UMC I am glad to hear from you guys. Yes let's seek a new path along with the other participating churches. Now you have an opportunity and we also to really come together and make things happen so everyone is...

1)On the same page and knows what to expect from one another.

2)Help the local homeless with the power of the nieghborhood as a whole

3)Make the elderly and the women and children of our community feel safe once again!!
Matthew Phillips
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September 27, 2017
So far I'm talking with Representatives from St. Brigid's Catholic Church and Pacific Beach United Methodist Church. We need all the other participating churches on board!

Janice Bellinghiere
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September 24, 2017
I support Matt's petition. Don't be confused by the term homeless. A large percentage of the men at the church feedings are drug addicts, bike thieves, and ex-cons/repeat offenders. They habitually come into our backyards to steal whatever they can, namely our bicycles. They have more than once jumped over my locked gate to steal things, shower in my outdoor shower, not to mention urinate and defecate in my driveway. I have seen them do meth and heroin on church property, which is now just a misdemeanor so not much the police can do.

Deacons from Father Joe's have met with and asked the PB Churches to stop feeding these "homeless" as they are not helping them, but rather enabling them and their addictions. My neighbors and I recognize two of the drug dealers that go to the church dinners and sell drugs. We have seen it happen over and over. The churches deny they have drug addicts attending their dinners!

Other cities have laws that prohibit churches from feeding within 200 yards of residences. We need this law. Why can't these churches donate to Father Joe's or volunteer there? Father Joe's knows what they are doing.
Matthew Phillips
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September 27, 2017
Janice my point exactly.
Matthew Phillips
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September 22, 2017
Dee Corum,

For one your reply is humorous I suppose I deserve it. Two where do you stand in all this? No harm so far Dee. I stand by what I've said.

francis p
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September 23, 2017
What is the background of this donkey butt? so he wants people in need steal food to eat?
Matthew Phillips
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September 22, 2017
I never advocated to starve the homeless. I started an informal petition signed by our nieghbors who dont think it serves in our best interest to have these feeds here. Now, what I should of have done was think of a solution. But how do you make somebody want to participate and contribute in society who doesn't want to? Beats me?
Carole Cruz
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September 22, 2017
How do we find your petition on Change. Org. There's a "search", but I don't know what words to enter to find it. Tx
Linda Hutchison
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September 22, 2017
Not only is the idea to starve the homeless appallingly cruel, it is ignorant of the causes of homelessness and does nothing to help alleviate the situation. The homeless may leave Pacific Beach, but they will go somewhere else. Downtown? We see what has happened there with the misguided idea to take away bathrooms. Four hundred people ill and 16 dead from Hepatitis A. Instead of wasting time on a senseless petition, why not work together to find solutions? Shelters. Medical and psychological care. The moral and legal issues. Should the homeless be forced to receive care and taken off the streets? There are no easy answers but they are worth discussing and working toward.
Heidi D.
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September 21, 2017
Philips' petition and Davis Curtis' comments in the article are symptomatic of an emerging class system in America, where the upper middle class protects its status by excluding the less well-off from their communities. Regardless of our religious beliefs or income, we should find ways to help those in need because it benefits all of us. Where does Philips' suggest these homeless people go? Does he have a solution, or does he just want to shuttle the problem to another community? Why should the homeless become this other community's problem? Why should the homeless in PB be expected to pick up and leave their home any more than Philips should? This petition reflects a lack of compassion and shortsightedness that are dangerous to our communities and country, and I certainly hope it does not get enough signature to make it to Lorie Zapf.
Aaron M
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September 23, 2017
Absolutely agree with you, instead of proposing a solution of starving the homeless, how about we take a look at the economic system in the US and the state that perpetuates this endemic homelessness. What a crazy solution to such a complex issue. These kind of petitions have no place in PB, our community deserves better.
Caryn516
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September 21, 2017
I understand the thought process behind the petition but I don't think it's worth the fight. As Christ followers, we are MANDATED, not given a suggestion, but MANDATED to feed and clothe those who are living on the margins. I pray that Mr. Phillips is never in need of services like the ones that he is petitioning against, but if he does, I sure hope they will be available to him.

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." ~ Niemöller

There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Turdbalp
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September 21, 2017
Matt Phillips. You sir, are a first class dick head. Take your petition and go fuck yourself with it
Dee Corum
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September 22, 2017
goodness Mr. Phillips; your comments demonstrate a rare degree of insight, reasoning and thus add greatly to the discussion. Thank you for sharing so deeply of your intellect. We are all, no doubt, inspired by your artful articulation of such profound thoughts. I trust you haven't brought harm to yourself with the effort.

Derek S
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September 21, 2017
These people seem like assholes.
Roger Wolsey
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September 20, 2017
No city Council, no state legislature, no Congress, and certainly no citizen petition can prohibit a religious organization from the free exercise of their religion as long as it is hurting no people. Feeding homeless people, feeding the poor, is an essential an intregal part of the free exercise of the religion of Christianity. Many homeless people, for various reasons, do not prefer to enter into a church building, but are quite more comfortable interacting and being helped out where they reside on the streets. Jesus fed people outside and so should we.

The citizens who are seeking to be activists by creating this petition, would serve their community far better by seeking to bring about policies that deal with the root causes of homelessness. Let's be advocates for more affordable housing, for more mental health workers per capita, for more drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs, and for better social policies that prevent people from falling through the economic cracks.

Roger Wolsey, author, "Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like Christianity "

Carrie O
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September 21, 2017
Roger,

You are absolutely correct. Thank you for saying so, and for reminding us of Jesus' example on this one.

No one is choosing to remain without housing because free meals are sometimes offered.

If Phillips and others actually want to end the problems of homelessness, they should indeed fight for affordable housing, expansive health and mental health care, and policies that encourage employers to hire people who have imperfect pasts.

Matthew Phillips
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September 22, 2017
I am not afraid of controversy. I'am simply searching for answers and have alot more learn, we all do. My intention was to stir debate and change for the better can't come without talking about the problem. I wanted to give a voice to those who are being ignored, the residents of Pacific beach. Who cant seem to find a solution and I'm sure the local churches feel the same. This would be the time for the petitioners & church leaders to have a talk. I propose a town hall to reconcile and come to an agreement on how we all can address what I said was partially the issue.

Joe Hathoot
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September 20, 2017
Matt is truly 100% correct! I have done food kitchens before and it is nothing more than a free bee for anyone who wants to partake. The problem is out of control in PB and the churches are partly responsible for it. Drugs, unsanitary conditions, crime, and alot of unsavory people in our neighborhood. There are better alternatives. I volunteer my time in PB for programs that actually benefit people and don't perpetuate problems.

Thank you.
Tom Simpkins
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September 21, 2017
Hey Joe! Could you share what programs you volunteer with? I think other people might be interested in learning about alternative ways to help as well. Letting us know what groups you work with, what you do in your volunteer work, contact names and numbers, etc. would be really helpful!
Caryn516
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September 21, 2017
I would also like to know who you are volunteering with at this time. I have a small non-profit here in PB and we work as a social enterprise. I hire locals who are experiencing homelessness and are looking to work their way off the streets. We do street cleaning, janitorial/custodial work, property maintenance and event set up and take down. Maybe you've heard of us - Pacific Beach Street Guardians...if not, check out our website! www.pbstreetguardians.org

Neil C.
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September 23, 2017
When are you all going to get it. Everyone on both sides of the argument wants the same thing. No one wants hungry homeless people on the streets. If you think not feeding the homeless at the churches will get them to move out, that's just plain stupid. They don't live here for the meals, they live here for the same reason we all do. We like it here. If you're broke you can pick your place to live, and none of us, ( homeless or not) is willing to live downtown. If you don't like the homeless in PB, why don't you move downtown. Stop feeding the homeless here and you give them no choice but to steal from the local stores to eat. Is that what you want to start. My advice is to find housing for the homeless here. I know some of you don't like to hear it, but the entire country has this problem, and no one has an answer. Most of the homeless have mental issues, and thanks to President Regan we no longer have the mental facilities to house them. So over the years this is what it turned into.So either find a way to house them here, or find a reasonable idea of how to be of help,not just complain. That's pathetic. Remember these folks for the most part are not the criminals you are trying to make them out to be, and the are as much a Americans as you are, and have every right to be here as you do. So instead of being a speed bump in the road to solving the problems, why don't you try to help find answers on the plus side.
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