A church in Maryland is facing a fine of $12,000 for sheltering the homeless.
“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we're going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night,” said Reverend Katie Grover of the Patapsco United Methodist Church, according to ABC 2 News.
The church received its first warning in June 2015.
Homeless people, who have nowhere else to go, have been sleeping outside of the church. Rev. Katie Grover of the Patapsco United Methodist Church says that by allowing the homeless to stay at the church, the church is fulfilling what she believes to be a mandate from scripture to care for the poor.
“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. 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,” Grover said, according to KFOR.
However, Chester Bartko, who owns property next door, has complained that the church’s allowance of homeless people on their property is hurting his business.
“We have a greenhouse and we sell flowers and shrubbery, and the homeless started camping right next to our retail sales area,” Bartko said, according to ABC 2 News.
As a result, the church has been fined a total of $12,000 for running a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house” and must comply to the code by December 18. Otherwise, they must pay the fine.
The church is scheduled to appear in court on December 21.