Church Fined $12,000 for Giving Shelter to Homeless

By December 8, 2016Criminal Justice

A local Maryland church has been fined $12,000 for providing shelter to homeless individuals living in the community.  Over the last several years there has been a crackdown on privately funded charitable efforts, with local governments using food and safety concerns-along with zoning codes to penalize those who are trying to help those less fortunate.

Just last month, 4,000 pounds of leftover barbecue from the World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri was destroyed before it was able to be served at a local homeless shelter. Local health officials claimed that they could not account for the safety of the food, even though the chefs who prepared the meat were world renowned in their craft. As a result, 3,000 homeless people went without a meal.

In 2014, an elderly man in his 90s was jailed numerous times for feeding the homeless after a city ordinance was passed, forbidding citizens from doing so. While these are just a few examples, both instances demonstrate a pattern of local governments shutting down individuals who were willing to dedicate their time and funds to helping those in need.

The events currently unfolding at the Patapsco United Methodist Church in Maryland follow this same trend of punishing those seeking to do charity work on a private and voluntary scale. For some time now, a handful of homeless community members have been using the church for shelter during the late night hours. Since Maryland winters can be rough, having the church provide this option has been a lifesaver for many who would have otherwise slept out on the street.

Reverend Katie Grover lamented, “I can’t control who sleeps here at night unless I’m here all day and all night. Homelessness, poverty, it’s chronic. At this point in time, the best we can do as a church is just be a place of refuge and not be chasing people who are just trying to sleep.”

For the most part, the church has been able to provide shelter to these homeless individuals without strong opposition from the surrounding community. However, Chester Bartko, whose property line lies just behind the church, has insisted that the church put an end to providing shelter to those with nowhere else to go.

Bartko, who has repeatedly alerted local officials to the church’s actions, believes that the homeless should be seeking assistance elsewhere. “The county and state has facilities for homeless people. They shouldn’t be here living like this,” Bartko told local reporters. Bartko has also asserted that one of his apple trees, which rests on the other side of the church’s fence has been ruined by these homeless visitors, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Since the church does not have the proper permit which would allow these homeless visitors to reside there overnight, the city is demanding that the church pay a $12,000 fine by December the 18th.

In times of economic uncertainty, communities should empower churches and other private organizations to give as much as they are willing to give. By creating criminals out of do-gooders, and then sending those in need back to into the state’s arms, we are not doing anything to strengthen our communities.

Reverend Grover is beside herself now that she is unable to continue what she believes to be God’s work. “This is the business that we conduct carrying for the least, the last and the lost, and the best we can do right now is let them take refuge,” she said. “I had one woman say this is the only place she felt safe to lay her head down to sleep at night because she has no place else to go. It’s an issue with no real good solution, but we as a church believe that Christ has called us to serve the least, the last, and the lost.”

Author Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter is a Staff Contributor at Generation Opportunity.

More posts by Brittany Hunter
  • Proud2bfromtheUSA

    It may be wrong but I hope the man who complains has some reason to be homeless so he will know how it feels.

    • Tyra Lynne Wahl

      Their city has two homeless shelters that offer both food and lodging to the homeless, so why the need to sleep in the church yard? Because the shelters do not allow any drugs or alcohol, but an unsupervised church yard allows everything.

      • Gary Schelvan

        And you know this how Tyra? Have you ever been homeless, hungry, scared and don’t know where to turn? You never know in life lady. one day you may need the help of a loving & caring pastor and their church! So take your cold & callous heart elsewhere!~

        • Tyra Lynne Wahl

          How about I am adult enough to read more than one source? Oh and I don’t have to worry about being homeless either.i don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, I don’t live beyond my means and I actually plan for the unexpected….

          • Gary Schelvan

            I am not putting you down Tyra. But I know for a fact, that NO human being can plan for every little contingency that can possibly be thrown our way in life. Lots of unexpected things happen in life, it’s just the way it is. It is very possible that you some day may need the heilp, or someone near & dear to you may need the help of a curch body to get them thru a tough time in their life. I have witnessed first hand for myself, that a church body is very capable of managing some homeless people staying at their place of worship, with control, no illegal/legal substances being allowed. Churches are packed full of loving & caring & responsible people, who want only to do what Jesus tells us to do. Show compassion for those that are in dire need of some help!

          • Tyra Lynne Wahl

            Gary, the problem with your last comment is that this church and its pastor are making no effort to control exactly those things to which you speak. She even says in one interview that they don’t have the resources to police or control who stays on their property. That is blatant abdication of responsibility to their community at large. That is like me letting my dog run the streets at night and s**tting in people’s yards and saying “well I cannot help what he does when I am not around”.

            My experience with people, 40+ years of it, is that people’s lives are a culmination and product of the decisions they make. And yes, you can plan for problems, upsets and the “unexpected” as you put it. It’s called being responsible and its based in certain behaviors like not doing drugs, using things like alcohol, tobacco and etc in moderation and most of all… being a law abiding member of society. It’s not that hard… people do it every day.

  • Marcus Jones

    We have TOO MUCH government…

  • Pooch15

    This is exactly what churches should be doing. This is exactly who should be helping people. This is exactly where people should be able to turn for help. This is exactly what out of control government looks like.

  • Tom Holsomback

    A property owner, Chester Bartko, adjacent to the church is bitching. City fines church $12,000. Where does the money go? Why the fine at all. This story doesn’t seem true, although it is MD..

    • samurai6669

      It has become the standard modus operandi of Democrat controlled cities over the last few years.

    • Tyra Lynne Wahl

      You need to read more than just this whining puff piece…. the story is much more broad than what Ms. Hunter makes it out to be.

      • Gary Schelvan

        My my, aren’t we the caring compassionate one! Heart of stone Tyra, turned dark!

        • Tyra Lynne Wahl

          Yeah that’s it you just judge me for being a realist about being wise enough to read more than one source for a story. I hardly doubt you want a yard full drug abusers next to your home or work either.

        • Tyra Lynne Wahl

          Call my heart whatever you like…. But I get up every morning, go to my business, serve the public, pay my bills, give to charity, participate in community projects and do good in the world all without believing that I am “paying it forward” in some magical afterlife.

  • Harold Melton

    …well, this is the Peoples’ Republic of Maryland so what can one expect?

    • Cindy

      No, this is happening across the nation. Homeless are dying like the Jews in the holocaust. If you feed them then they will fine you into homelessness along with them, We have to fight this,

      • Harold Melton

        I agree. For sure, the ones who shut this down offered no alternative.

  • Should have called it “sanctuary”. It is all the rage these days….

  • Steve Durgin

    This is the definition and epitome of absurd!!!! Churches and other businesses are an amazing resource for homeless folks.
    When are we as a nation going to stop this utter foolery of rules and just do what’s right!!! It looks like when Jesus healed on the sabaoth, he was criticized for that!

  • Steve Durgin

    Our buildings like churches, libraries, schools, etc are where we have existing resources that can meet ALL the needs of homeless… and we throw away enough food to feed all the homeless too. I wish the political and governing systems we have would just get real and become a bit more human!!!