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Wake County panhandlers will need permits

Posted November 7, 2011

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— Starting next month, panhandlers in Wake County will need a permit to operate in the county.

County commissioners passed an ordinance on Monday requiring panhandlers to get the free permits at county offices, starting Dec. 1, after presenting a photo ID. The permits are good for one year.

Commissioner Paul Coble presented the ordinance after hearing complaints from drivers about aggressive panhandlers going up to vehicles and arguing with drivers.

"The permit will hopefully stop a lot of the riff-raff from coming out here, and it might not," panhandler Bobby Corcoran said on Monday.

Corcoran said he has been asking for money at the intersection of U.S. Highway 401 and Ten Ten Road since he lost his car and job last year. The former Marine said he used to be one of the only people panhandling at the intersection.

"Now, you have someone on every corner, and then you've got the people that get up in the windows of people's cars and stand there and stare at them, which is wrong to do it like that," he said. "I stand there with my sign. They pull up. I stand there, make eye contact. I wave how are you doing, and that's it. I don't ask for anything. If they put their window down and say, 'Here you go, sir.' I say, 'Thank you very much and have a blessed day.'"

Corcoran, who lives in a makeshift shack in a wooded area nearby, said it is going to be tough for him to get transportation to county offices to get a permit.

"It's going to make it a whole lot tougher," he said. "If officers pull up and ask for a permit and I don't have it, and say I just made $30 and they write me a ticket for $160, how am I going to pay that if I'm not working and I'm not out here?"

Corcoran said he would work if someone would give him a chance.

"I'm out here. I don't try to make any more than I have to. I don't make the money to go and get drunk or do drugs," he said, adding that he tries to make enough to send money to his girlfriend and get something to eat.

Wake considers permits for panhandlers Wake considers permits for panhandlers

"There’s been some days I’ve been out here and made $10, and I’m lucky to get something to eat," he said. "I don't want to be out here. I'm always asking about work."

Driver Phillip Baker thinks the permits will be a good thing. 

"They're probably making more money off panhandling than I make at my job," he said. 

Raleigh and Garner have similar laws requiring permits for panhandlers, but Corcoran said many people have been going into the county to avoid having to get a permit.

In Raleigh this year, there have been 372 charges for begging without a permit, officials said. 

Johnston County commissioners are also expected to discuss panhandlers at a meeting on Monday night. Officials are considering a ban on aggressive panhandling. 

142 Comments

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  • joey51 Nov 8, 4:47 p.m.

    I believe there are scammers, but that is not up to me. I can still give a dollar or two and not miss it. Wow, some of you have never needed anything in your lives it seems, so blessed are you. Be wary of your words, you may live to regret them.

  • joey51 Nov 8, 4:43 p.m.

    To Flashsparks: You just summed it up. What will they think of next?

  • flashsparks Nov 8, 4:25 p.m.

    Our world can't get any more bizarre. You need a photo id to panhandle, but we sure don't need one to vote. You just can't make this stuff up!

  • Whosays Nov 8, 3:59 p.m.

    The churches and other organizations are being scammed too, seen it with my own eyes, some have had to quit helping people because of this. At my church once a year we do offer a free yard sale so the needy can come in an take what they want at no charge. We also offer counselling and food.

  • jet9192 Nov 8, 2:45 p.m.

    Taxman, Do you know that churches have been hit very hard with the economy downturn and don't have the funds to help as they have in the past? Same goes for the other organizations you are referring to.

  • hunter38 Nov 8, 1:29 p.m.

    Actually watched a guy doing this one day then walk around the corner and drove off in a SUV....new I might add. Now Im sure they all don't do this but there are scammers out there just like in anything else. I don't hand money to anyone in the streets...I donate to the Salvation Army and others but never give money to peeps in the streets...good way to get robbed.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 8, 1:24 p.m.

    No..the "riff-raff" will just get the free permit and continue as before. I thought the "free" permits were already required?

  • wildcat Nov 8, 1:11 p.m.

    They really should not be allowed to beg on the streets. There are plenty of places one can go to for assistance without begging. Too many programs out there.

  • Ambygirl Nov 8, 1:01 p.m.

    TaxMan-- Do you realize that churches, social organizations will not pay the current electric bill, house payment, rent, ect. for people that are out of work? They have to be to the point of cut off or eviction before they will help them. I worked for a public utility for 15 years in customer service and that was policy for every organization out there. So if you won't hire someone because they have lost their job, used every resource they have, used all their savings to keep afloat while they are hard at looking for a job, are behind due to no fault of their own, then you are only adding to the problem, not makeing it better. You are missing out on some of the brightest, most capable people in your community. Better hope your business doesn't fail and you find yourself in that situation someday.

  • timbo10.0 Nov 8, 11:51 a.m.

    I hope they do background checks on them all.

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