Local News

Chapel Hill Panhandlers Migrate From Franklin Street

Posted October 28, 1998

— It has been a month since Chapel Hill's town council took a tough, new stance on panhandlers. The laws make it illegal for beggars to confront people, but the problem seems to have moved from one area of the town to another.

There are still panhandlers on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. But since the town's get tough policy on panhandling went into effect one month ago, something has changed. Some of the old begging hotspots are now vacant. Merchants who pushed for the tougher laws are noticing the change.

"Are they fewer in number? I think they are. When you work on Franklin Street, a lot of the faces are familiar, and a lot of the familiar faces, I haven't seen them in awhile. I think they are dropping in numbers a little bit at least," said merchant Chrystal Bradshaw.

But travel just a few miles from Franklin Street along Highway 15-501 where Durham meets Chapel Hill and you see panhandlers. More and more, they are showing up working the intersections. Nothing new in many places but a migration of sorts here.

"I have noticed that migration in the last month or so. I don't see it down here in Chapel Hill along the streets like I used to see it, and those people that I did see down here are out there just where Interstate 40 and 15-501 join one and other," said Orange County resident Marty Ravellette.

One of the intersection panhandlers said people are nicer at the stoplights than on Franklin Street.

But many people just outside of Chapel Hill hope the new ordinance has not simply moved the trouble somewhere else.

Many of the panhandlers who have moved are now working intersections in Durham. Police say they do not want people begging for money at traffic lights. They'll arrest anyone who interrupts traffic flow.

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