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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?


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