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Desert Hot Springs ordinance stops God's Kitchen from feeding homeless twice weekly

Desert Hot Springs ordinance stops...

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. - The Desert Hot Springs City Council celebrated a $103,000 donation to the Coachella Valley Association of Governments Homelessness Initiative with a check presentation at Tuesday's council meeting.

"Homelessness doesn’t have boundaries. Desert Hot Springs has a percentage of homeless, like most cities do, and we have to come up with a plan," said Scott Matas, mayor of Desert Hot Springs.

That donation was matched by a donation from the Desert Healthcare District.

Folks from Mission Outreach Project, God’s Kitchen stepped up to the plate to serve up their contention with a recent ordinance.

"Work out the problems where the problems are due to be worked out, rather than punishing everybody because you can’t take control of your city buildings," said David Fellman, former executive director of Mission Outreach Project, during public comment.

The ordinance, approved last month, limits the amount of times an organization can use a community center to once a week. For 25 years, God’s Kitchen has cooked hot meals twice a week at the Henry V. Lozano Community Center.

"We have the community coming together to serve and, to me, I think that serves a purpose that allows the community to come together and be as one," said Jennifer Braun, executive director of Mission Outreach Project.

Matas said God’s Kitchen, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops use community centers the most, preventing other groups from getting a chance to use the space.

"We only have three community centers here in Desert Hot Springs and they are all used quite a bit, so there was efforts made to make it fair to the whole community," Matas said.

The ordinance could change in the future if the city sees negative consequences from the decision.

"We can bring it back in the future, if that is what the City Council chooses. If it is a big enough need we can bring it back and discuss it again," Matas said.

After public comment, Matas said he and the city manager would meet with Braun to try to work something out.

The ordinance doesn't affect the Thanksgiving Feast served up by God’s Kitchen, which gives a holiday meal to about 300 people.

The feast is Wednesday at the Henry V. Lozano Community Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

JOE GALLI IS ON FACEBOOK AND ON TWITTER!


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