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September 04, 2015

Tampa Homelessness Charity to Shut Down Following Raid

A nonprofit serving the homeless in Tampa, Fla., that is pursuing a legal challenge to the city's panhandling ban faces closure next week after a raid by police and code-enforcement officials, reports The Tampa Tribune. Homeless Helping Homeless founder Adolphus Parker said he has until Tuesday to clear out the charity's headquarters and a transitional shelter behind the office.

Police executed a search warrant Wednesday morning in connection with allegations that Mr. Parker and two of his staff, which consists largely of homeless people, are violating state statutes regarding towing, storing, and leasing vehicles. Code-enforcement agents called to the shelter during the raid found several zoning violations and declared the facility “unfit for human habitation,” a city spokeswoman said.

Along with beds, the six-year-old charity supplies meals, showers, and hygiene kits to Tampa's homeless. Homeless Helping Homeless filed suit in May over a 2011 city law that bars panhandling six days a week, arguing that it violates free-speech rights and impinges on the nonprofit's ability to raise money through street solicitations. The City Council voted in June to repeal a portion of the ordinance that banned soliciting on public roads.