Anti-panhandling campaigns in business districts: your opinion?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:08:48 -0700 (PDT)


A Florida reporter for a business rag asked me for a quote on the following:

>....downtown Orlando merchants want to thwart aggressive
>panhandlers. Among their planned group initiatives: putting signs in their
>windows that say 'Don't Give Spare Change, Make a Real Change,' passing out
>flyers and hiring a full-time person to stand in front of businesses and
>tell people not to give panhandlers change, but rather give the money to
>social services.

Here's the quote I emailed back:

"Many municipalities have been passing 'sidewalk behavior' laws to keep
homeless people out of downtown Business Improvement Districts.  These
measures have done little to decrease panhandling or haomelessness in
business districts.  In short, they have failed.

"NYC and San Frnacisco are among the cities with the most aggressive
policing of homeless people, and the Mayors of both cities have faced
ongoing protests of 'homeless sweeps'.  Orlando officials and business
people need to think hard and long before taking a similar tack with the
poor among us.

"Courts continue to restrict and overturn panhandling ordinances.  Towns
which practice "homeless sweeps" can pay a high price -- in settlements and
Public Relations nightmares -- for violating homeless people's civil
liberties.

"To stop homeless people from asking for money or help is cruel, inhumane
and unconstitutional.  Homeless people have as much right to be in business
districts as anyone else.  Our communities need to end poverty, not
criminalize poor people."

Any suggestions for other comments to the reporter? -- Tom Boland


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