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Homeless man gets ticket for looking for food in trash can

By Mason White 5:52 PM March 13, 2013
James Kelly 

By: John Roberts
(Scroll down for video) A homeless man was shocked when a police officer handed him a ticket after he was looking for food in a public trash can.

A while ago, a law was passed, making it a crime for random people to feed the homeless. Officials claim that free food for the homeless should be distributed only by the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, for the safety of the homeless.

Yet, with the rising number of homeless shelters which are full to capacity they cannot accommodate all the homeless, leaving the hungry to fend for themselves.

Now, they are being punished if they rummage through public or private garbage cans.

“Homeless who once relied on the kindness of strangers for food had that option taken away from them. Now, they are forced to scavenge for food and the city wants to take that option away from the homeless,” Joe Ablaza, a critic of the policy, said.

James Kelly, 44, a navy veteran, was looking through a garbage can near Houston City Hall, when an officer issued him a citation for “disturbing the contents of a garbage can”, according to the police report.

“I was basically looking for something to eat,” Kelly said.

Randall Kallinen, the attorney representing Kelly, said the citation was the result of the movement of the city to regulate feeding the homeless.

“Now, when they try to feed themselves anyway possible, they make that a crime as well,” the lawyer said.

The police department issued a statement in response to questions about the subpoena.

The police department released a statement:
“An officer has probable cause to issue such citation when a person opens a lid and rummages through the contents of a dumpster or trash can.”

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