google22e24f3826f91decOrange City Council passed revised rules regarding panhandling following a U.S. Supreme Court decision disallowing rules restricting panhandling to certain “blue boxes” around the city.
The new rules, intended to prevent “aggressive” panhandling, restrict panhandlers from asking again once a person has said no and prohibits asking at ATMs, but does not restrict panhandling at night or in groups of 2 or more—something that makes some Orlando residents uncomfortable.
Orlando resident Irina Wolff stated the concerns of many residents: “Personally, I’d prefer to only be approached by one panhandler than two or more. Safety is in numbers and I don’t want to be outnumbered.”
The new rules also forbid people asking for money in roadways, including cars stopped at red lights. Orlando resident Kenneth Conroy is glad that panhandlers will no longer present a road hazard: “Personally, I’ll take that over people doing it in traffic. I’ve never had a panhandler give me a heart attack walking down the sidewalk, but there’ve been a few walking the line on OBT at night that had me worried I might hit them, or get in an accident with someone who swerved to avoid them.”
Orlando resident Luigi Botta, Jr. expressed his concern that those who panhandle may not be legitimately in need: “I agree with the ordinance. Because you never know who is a true homeless person. Many of those who declare themselves homeless, on fact, lie about their situation to make money for free. There have been cases in which that has happened.”
Perhaps the better solution to the panhandling problem would be to donate money and supplies to local homeless shelters, rather to individual panhandlers, to allow those organizations to provide much-needed services. As Wolff stated: “Isn’t the answer to provide more services to the homeless of Orlando? Nothing like a place to sleep and a meal in your belly to remove the necessity of panhandling.”