Nothing like making the life of the homeless a little worse in the spirit of the season. A small church in Maryland is facing $12,000 in fines from Baltimore County for helping the homeless by allowing them to sleep on the property, a practice the county had generally turned a blind eye to until a complaint was filed.
The tradition — which sees between two and more than a dozen people sleeping in tents or under tarps, depending on whom you ask — has drawn such vehement protests from a neighboring business owner that inspectors have cited the church for illegal “use of the property as housing units.”
As in all things, each party sees the issue through very different lens.
The Rev. Katie Grover, the pastor (of Patapsco United Methodist Church in Dundalk), says by allowing the homeless onto church grounds, she’s merely carrying out her duty to care for the “the last, the least and the lost,” as Jesus commanded.
Chester Bartko, who has owned Shore Produce and Seafood next door for 30 years, says the church is “harboring vagrants.” He says he has often seen people urinating and defecating on the property.
For Baltimore County, the conflict is a straightforward matter of zoning.
The church, which has about 60 congregants, has:
…served hot meals to the poor on Friday nights for 20 years. It opens its food pantry to the needy every week. It’s again running its annual winter blanket and clothing giveaway.
If by Dec. 19 the church can’t prove that it has adapted the property so homeless can’t sleep there, it will have to pay the fine or go before an administrative judge
If we do not protect our people this will continue to happen!!!! FOLKS WAKE UP!!!