Government has unseemly problem with woman giving free help to needy

July 4, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

What could possibly be wrong when a woman living in a part of her town with a high poverty rate and a large issue with homelessness decides to set up a free pantry, giving away clothes, hygiene products, household goods, baby items, and even some food?

In winter months Amy Crevola also offers the needy in Corvallis, Washington, a warming station with hot cocoa and warm clothes, and in the summer, that includes water, juice, hats, and sunscreen.

But the government apparently as a problem with all that kindness.

It is the Institute for Justice that revealed it has sent a letter to city officials there "urging them to back off their code enforcement efforts" that are threatening Crevola with a financial disaster.

The problem is city bureaucrats are demanding she builds a full indoor building for her free pantry.

It's not a business, but officials are using that law to make the demands.

"I can’t end homelessness, and I can’t change our mental health system, but I can offer a cup of coffee and a place to rest a minute," she has explained.

"I can offer a place for neighbors to help neighbors share canned goods and jackets, a place where we can hear each other’s stories: of hasty evictions and rent increases, of battling depression and hunger and encampment sweeps and loneliness."

One beneficiary of her project scribbled a note, saying, "Thank you, guys, for the little things in life that are useful in this time of need."

The IJ explained, "Her neighbors are largely supportive of her effort, with many donating items or volunteering to help. But when the city received a complaint about the pantry, officials sent her a letter on June 9 demanding that she comply with the city’s home business ordinance."

The ruling said the city will restrict hours of operation to 40 per week and requires the carport from which she works to be turned into a full garage, likely at a cost of $10,000 or more.

"Crevola has no issue complying with the 40-hour restriction but cannot afford to build a completely new structure on her property," the IJ explained.

"Ms. Crevola is not running a business, so there is simply no reason she should be forced to comply with onerous business restrictions," said IJ lawyer Erica Smith Ewing. "The cost of converting her carport into a garage could force her to close her pantry and leave the people who rely on her without access to products they need."

The city claims that if doesn't operate as a "home business," she can't operate at all.

The IJ, in its letter, urged the city to make accommodations for the services being provided.

The letter explained the city's demands are "unreasonable, burdensome, and unconstitutional."

"For this reason, we ask that the city allow Amy to pursue a more financially viable method of enclosing the carport, such as by using a tarp to shield the inside of the carport from view."

It explained, "Either banning or severely restricting a property owner from using their property to help neighbors and community members in need creates constitutional problems."

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