September 3, 2008

Church Fights to Keep Homeless Tent

A hearing began Wednesday on a Florida church's tent, used to house homeless men now that the church building is full to overflowing.

Palm Beach County, Fla., officials say that Westgate Tabernacle is violating a number of ordinances, including some that involve unsafe conditions. The church, in an unincorporated area outside West Palm Beach, says it has no place else to put the 100 or so men who sleep in the tent every night, The Palm Beach Post reported.

"I'll take the tent down when Palm Beach County builds a shelter for the people of Palm Beach County or when Jesus comes, and it appears Jesus will come first," Bishop Avis Hill said when he was ordered to remove the tent.

About 30 to 40 people gathered outside the hearing to support Hill.

Palm Beach County has asked that Hill be ordered to remove the tent by Sept. 15. Officials cite an ordinance requiring permits for any temporary structure larger than 100 square feet, the newspaper said.

Hill told the Post he didn't try to get a permit for the tent because he has had no luck obtaining county permits in the past.