MALIBU—The city of Malibu has informed a local church in the area to stop serving homeless people just days before Thanksgiving.

The United Methodist Church implemented a program for feeding homeless people in the area for years. Each week the church feeds between 60 and 100 people. It also has a special Thanksgiving service to feed the homeless. According to reports, the Malibu City Council asked the church to stop the service after the Thanksgiving holiday ends.

The homeless population has been growing in Malibu for years. According to a survey done by the Malibu Times, in 2013 there were 8,371 and in 2015 there were 8,688. This is an increase of 8.3 percent over two years.

The Malibu City Council received a presentation on November 13 during its regular meeting to discuss the City’s efforts to address homelessness, including the efforts of the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness and The People’s Concern outreach workers, public safety and law enforcement issues surrounding homelessness, and the development of a Homelessness Strategic Plan.

“The people of Malibu rightly recognize this as a humanitarian crisis and the City has made it a priority issue,” said Mayor Skylar Peak. “We are collaborating intensively with non-profit service providers and the Sheriff’s Department to support comprehensive services that really make a difference for people experiencing homelessness, while also addressing the public safety and public health impacts of homelessness on the community.”

Public Safety Manager Susan Dueñas will deliver an update on the $50,000 grant that Malibu received in October 2017 from the County of Los Angeles to help fund the development of a comprehensive Homelessness Strategic Plan to tackle issues related to homelessness in the region. The Homelessness Strategic Plan is expected to coordinate Malibu’s existing resources in an effective way, find new opportunities to address the issue, and support the efforts of the Los Angeles region.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Dawn Randall, a worker at the United Methodist Church, said that the city council explained that the program is actually “increasing homelessness” in the area. Their reasoning is that, by ending the program, the homeless population in Malibu will drop. The city council has denied stating to close down the program.

In a public statement, the city council explained that the church will have a meeting with the city next week. City Council will address the matter in further detail during its upcoming weekly meeting. In a press release, the council said “all parties agreed to gather more information and come back to continue the constructive dialogue after the Thanksgiving holiday.”