North Carolina councilman suggests arresting people who give money or food to the homeless

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — A Charlotte city councilmember says he has no regrets after his comments about the city’s homeless population caused outrage.

Monday night, during a city council meeting, Councilman Tariq Bokhari suggested that when people give money or food to homeless individuals instead of charities and organizations, they are causing more harm than good.

“People aren’t getting it, and they’re still bringing food and clothing and resources directly to folks that are out there right now. They’re only making themselves feel good,” said Bokhari.

But it was his next suggestion that upset many others.

“Perhaps we explore making that a misdemeanor,” Bokhari said, referring to giving money directly to homeless.

On Friday, Bokhari said he didn’t regret his words “even one little bit.” Instead, Bokhari said he was urging city leaders to create bold strategies to end homelessness.

“Whether its tent city or the levels of aggressive panhandling or people not getting the help they need, it’s not working,” Bokhari said.

Charlotte city leaders are currently drafting a five-year plan to end homelessness and expand affordable housing. They plan to unveil the plan, and how it will be paid for, in the coming months.

“Who are we to say don’t give to this person when clearly we can see a need here,” said Deborah Woolard, founder of the charity Block Love Charlotte.

Every night of the week, you’ll find Woolard in uptown Charlotte feeding the city’s homeless.

After working for law firms in uptown for years, she saw the city’s homeless problems every day.

“I saw the same people every day. And instead of just assuming what their issues were, I would have conversations. Find out what they needed,” said Woolard.

She said the councilman’s words were harmful, and she’s hoping people will continue to give.

“Don’t ever feel like you can’t just give from your own heart when you see a person at a stoplight or on a bridge,” Woolard said. “When someone needs a hand, why not be that hand.”

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