Mayor wants homeless ministries to coordinate through the city - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Mayor wants homeless ministries to coordinate through the city

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File video of a feed the homeless event. Source: WBRC video File video of a feed the homeless event. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Tuesday, Birmingham city leaders denied a food truck ordinance is keeping religious groups  from feeding the homeless. 

Recently some ministers have said Birmingham Police stopped them from providing food for the homeless. The ministers said they were told they would need permit from the city and the Jefferson County Health Department to serve meals to the homeless.

Fox6 News reported last week about Bridge Builders Ministries being stopped from food services for the homeless under a downtown overpass.

"[Officers] showed up. Eight to 10 of them I guess. A sergeant with them. They got out, lights flying like we were operating a meth lab," Don Williams with Bridge Builder Ministries said.

Williams told FOX6 News that when he contacted the city, the person he spoke with says they didn't know how to issue a food truck permit for a ministry. Williams also talked to the health department, who told him ministries aren't required to obtain permits from them.

The issue came up during Tuesday's Birmingham City Council meeting.

"We are not trying to stop anyone from being able to feed but just do it in an orderly process," Birmingham Mayor William Bell said.

Bell was asked about the crackdown. While the mayor said the food truck ordinance was not meant to stop the feeding of the homeless Bell added the city wants to coordinate all services for the homeless with all groups signing up with the city's efforts.

"They would prefer all of the volunteer agencies come through a committee that been established to look at the homeless issue because they want to provide total service not just helter skelter service," Bell said.

The mayor said the non-profit group One Roof is a network of providing homeless services. Bell told council members these groups should contact One Roof to be a part of the city's future comprehensive plan for the homeless.

City Council President Johnathan Austin help create the food truck ordinance. Austin and other councilors were shocked religious groups were being blocked from providing free meals to the homeless.

"When I was chairman of public safety, it was not the purpose or intent of the food truck ordinance to ban or prohibit these activities," Austin said.

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