Pastor Faces Possible Fines for Helping Homeless

After a bitter battle between residents and a church helping the homeless, a pastor now faces possible fines of $100 per day. NBC10’s Tim Furlong has the latest. (Published Monday, Oct. 10, 2016)

A Delaware pastor could end up facing daily fines for helping the homeless.

Pastor Aaron Appling of Victory Church West in Dover recently allowed Alexis Simms, a 21-year-old homeless mom who is battling lupus, to live in a RV in back of the church property.

“We want to stand up for her,” Appling said. “Because there is nobody else to stand up for her.”

Standing up for Simms could prove to be expensive for the church however. Kent County officials sent Appling a letter stating his church isn’t zoned to let homeless people stay on the property. The letter warns that if the church doesn’t act quickly, they could be fined $100 a day.

While county officials said the church can apply for re-zoning to make the land a campground, Appling says it would be too expensive. He’s hoping the church and the county can reach a compromise before the fines begin.

Appling’s church was also involved in another conflict last month after they announced a plan to build tiny houses to help out the homeless. The plan was opposed by neighbors who claimed the church doesn’t have enough control of the people who stay there.

Church leaders are hoping to change laws so that they can have more flexibility regarding what they can do with their own land.

“We have to choose at some point in time as believers who we’re going to stand for and help,” Appling said. “We’re not against them we’re just choosing we need to help this person more than we need to be pleasing to you.”