Local News

Panhandling: The Effect of a Growing City

Posted June 8, 1998

— Raleigh city leaders are spending millions to lure more people to downtown shops and businesses. However, the resurgence of the Fayetteville Street mall is also attracting more panhandlers.

It is not against the law to panhandle in Raleigh, but the question is how does the city balance the rights of the homeless with the need to revitalize downtown.

Fayetteville mall comes alive at lunch time. Office workers rush to grab a bite, street musicians serenade, and panhandlers sit with their hands out.

President of the Raleigh Development Alliance Errol Frailey said that an increasing homeless population is inevitable in a growing urban area.

"Most people would prefer not to have panhandlers or homeless around," Frailey said. "There are always going to be some homeless roaming around or panhandlers. We don't want them to be aggressive and that's where we need to draw the line, and we need to draw it firmly."

The city does allow beggars to get permits, and there are 98 on record. Even with the permit, aggressive begging is not allowed. This law is something that police do enforce.

"Sometimes when you get an aggressive beggar, and someone gets in your face, some people are a little intimidated by that," Raleigh Police Sgt. David Brown said.

There are many agencies that help the homeless, but a lot of the street people do not know how to connect with these groups.

"The first night at the mall he could decide that he wants something different," said Richard Fitzgerald, who works for the Raleigh Rescue Mission. "He might come in the mission and say 'I'm tired', and 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired... I want help', and that is where we go to work."

The best advise that most people offered is not to give out money to people that panhandle at the mall. The Raleigh Rescue Mission provides meal resources pamphlets that contain information about where an individual can receive shelter, clothing, food, and even a job.

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