Ministry for the homeless struggles to get permit to operate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Ministry for the homeless struggles to get permit to operate

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video

A Birmingham ministry is outraged after they say the City of Birmingham shut them down for serving food to the homeless.

For fifteen years now, the Bridge Builders Ministries have been feeding the homeless three days a week under an overpass in downtown Birmingham. But that may have to stop because of a new city ordinance aimed at regulating food trucks.

Don Williams is just the latest ministry who has been shut down by police. Williams said eight to ten officers showed up. He described it looking like a meth lab.

Williams says police told them to shut it down, and ordered church members to put everything back in their vehicles. Julie DeRoi was also there.

"I was shocked," said DeRoi. "They made the people stop eating."

DeRoi says she's never seen anything like this.

"I was just baffled by the lack of compassion," said DeRoi.

Williams says he was told he has to have a permit from the city, as well as the health department to serve food.

"My understanding from the city officials is they want this type of serving of meals stopped," said Williams.

Williams says he's tried to get a permit, but cant. "Jefferson County Health Department is telling me unequivocally, I do not, nor any other ministries are required to have a permit to give food away to anyone, said Williams.

He says he then contacted the city who told him they didn't know how to issue a permit for a ministry.

"It's ridiculous, I expressed the concern, the city should have had their ducks in a row before they issue this to ministries such as mine," said Williams.

But Williams isn't going to let this stop him.

"I'm going to continue to try to obtain a permit," he said.

In the meantime Williams will continue serving food. This Sunday he will try to serve under the overpass again. But starting Tuesday, they will temporarily be serving food at the Church of the Reconciler.

The Mayor's office did not return our call.

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