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Westgate Tabernackle Church defies Palm Beach County With Homeless Tent

Heartless? County Tries to Shut Down Church Shelter

In a battle of church versus state, Westgate Tabernackle Church has defied Palm Beach County by setting up a 40-by-60-foot tent for homeless people on property not zoned for sleeping. Now, county code enforcement officials have issued a building code citation and a fine of up to $1,000 a day if the church does not take down the tent. The church is the only walk-in shelter in the county.

Church leader Bishop Avis Hill has disobeyed the order maintaining:

My plans are to leave this tent up until there is no longer a need for it, and that means I will leave it up until the county builds a shelter or Jesus comes. At the rate they are going, Jesus will come first.

County officials argue that the conditions are not safe, even though issues like electrical hazards and nonworking smoke detectors have been addressed recently. Bishop Hill isn't all that stubborn though; he has offered to provide food and shelter somewhere else if the county provides other land for the tent. Should the county leave the makeshift, and imperfect, homeless shelter alone until they come up with another option for those seeking shelter?

Source

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Jillness Jillness 7 years
"Because the city doesnt have a homeless shelter are they than required to set up one just because this church has decided to break the law?"If the church closes the doors of their shelter, the homeless people will still be there. The city should set up a shelter because it is the city's problem. "In my town, the homeless shelter is run by partnerships in community agencies, not the city or county or state. Its run with donations from the community. If this city wants one, than the citizens should get together and make that happen."Isn't that EXACTLY what the church is doing? They are trying to set up a privately funded shelter, that the city wants to shut down. The homeless problem will be very big this winter.
Jillness Jillness 7 years
"Because the city doesnt have a homeless shelter are they than required to set up one just because this church has decided to break the law?" If the church closes the doors of their shelter, the homeless people will still be there. The city should set up a shelter because it is the city's problem. "In my town, the homeless shelter is run by partnerships in community agencies, not the city or county or state. Its run with donations from the community. If this city wants one, than the citizens should get together and make that happen." Isn't that EXACTLY what the church is doing? They are trying to set up a privately funded shelter, that the city wants to shut down. The homeless problem will be very big this winter.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 7 years
I wish my neighborhood had a huge tent for homeless people. It's no different to me if they all congregate in one place for food and shelter than the line of them I pass every day sleeping in the doorway of a closed shop or on the street.
True-Song True-Song 7 years
>In my opinion I think a lot of times when people think of the homeless they think of the stinky, dirty, addicts/crazies, yelling at people variety Right. When a huge segment of the homeless population is single mothers and their children.
HeatherStJoeMI HeatherStJoeMI 7 years
or Opttion B : Find a usable decent building in good shape that is owned by the city and take it off their hands.No city has all their usable buildings FULL.
HeatherStJoeMI HeatherStJoeMI 7 years
or Opttion B : Find a usable decent building in good shape that is owned by the city and take it off their hands. No city has all their usable buildings FULL.
HeatherStJoeMI HeatherStJoeMI 7 years
Milo'smommy, I agree with you. I will say that the city needs to get some folks that care and would really want to help do the following: Option A : find a contractor who is willing to help and see if they can help fix the current building at a reduced rate.
HeatherStJoeMI HeatherStJoeMI 7 years
Milo'smommy, I agree with you. I will say that the city needs to get some folks that care and would really want to help do the following: Option A : find a contractor who is willing to help and see if they can help fix the current building at a reduced rate.
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
In my opinion I think a lot of times when people think of the homeless they think of the stinky, dirty, addicts/crazies, yelling at people variety. And while I'll be brave enough to admit that I probably wouldn't want them next-door either it doesn't mean the problem should be swept under the rug. Also people often forget that there are a lot of times children involved and they didn't become homeless of their volition and these shelters need to be in place for them as well.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Well I'll be honest I don't want a homelss shelter next door to my house either but I'll be damned if I'm going make a stink about it. These are Gods children too and yes a better remedy should be found but in the meen time they should be allowed to stay.
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
No you didn't say that, but your overall tone was a bit harshand made it seem like you don't see the reason or need for a homeless shelter in the first place. So you're right I shouldn't have put the words in your mouth. I apologize. But you did however say that tax payer are paying for it and as it stands now they're not, the church members are. I'm sorry, but it's my opinion that they're using zoning laws as a technicality because they don't want the homeless there in their precious neighborhood.
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
No you didn't say that, but your overall tone was a bit harsh and made it seem like you don't see the reason or need for a homeless shelter in the first place. So you're right I shouldn't have put the words in your mouth. I apologize. But you did however say that tax payer are paying for it and as it stands now they're not, the church members are. I'm sorry, but it's my opinion that they're using zoning laws as a technicality because they don't want the homeless there in their precious neighborhood.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
Milos. I never said they were crazy drug addicts did I? nor did i say i had anything against the homeless. please dont put words into my mouth.The church is violating county zoning codes that are there for a reason (safety being one) Because the city doesnt have a homeless shelter are they than required to set up one just because this church has decided to break the law? In my town, the homeless shelter is run by partnerships in community agencies, not the city or county or state. Its run with donations from the community. If this city wants one, than the citizens should get together and make that happen.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
Milos. I never said they were crazy drug addicts did I? nor did i say i had anything against the homeless. please dont put words into my mouth. The church is violating county zoning codes that are there for a reason (safety being one) Because the city doesnt have a homeless shelter are they than required to set up one just because this church has decided to break the law? In my town, the homeless shelter is run by partnerships in community agencies, not the city or county or state. Its run with donations from the community. If this city wants one, than the citizens should get together and make that happen.
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
Oh and caterpiller do you dislike homeless people that much?? They're not all crazy drug addicts you know. Why can't a chuch that isn't asking anything from you not be allowed to keep up their tent?
milosmommy milosmommy 7 years
I'm sorry, but isn't a church supposed to be an acceptable place for the needy to go for help???
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
LOL! torgleson (a Dingo ate my baby!), no it was a homeless person.
stephley stephley 7 years
Grrr, I hate when they do that and you have to go to some third world country to snag another one!
True-Song True-Song 7 years
Definitely a backyard issues. The concern here is not about "sleeping zones," it's that the neighbors thing the homeless people will eat their babies.
stiletta stiletta 7 years
This is why less government is good government.
organicsugr organicsugr 7 years
This is despicable. The government should always be the first place the downtrodden look for food, shelter, money, and love. This prostyletizing pastor should stop stepping on the government's toes in his attempt to help people. There is no excuse for giving these bitter homeless people a reason to cling to religion.
organicsugr organicsugr 7 years
This is despicable. The government should always be the first place the downtrodden look for food, shelter, money, and love.This prostyletizing pastor should stop stepping on the government's toes in his attempt to help people. There is no excuse for giving these bitter homeless people a reason to cling to religion.
stephley stephley 7 years
It sounds like the church is just moving to pressure the county to do something more appropriate.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Argh *they're
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Argh *they're
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