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Fayetteville Seeks Better Handle on Panhandlers

Posted December 27, 2007

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— In an effort to spruce up the image of downtown Fayetteville, the City Council plans to consider cracking down on panhandling.

City officials said street beggars discourage people from going downtown, and some said too many beggars throughout the city intimidate people.

The current ordinance has two key rules for panhandlers: Don't step into roadways and impede traffic, and don't intimidate or threaten other people.

New Councilman Bobby Hurst said he doesn't think Fayetteville's panhandling problem is worse than other cities of similar size, but he said he would like to see more teeth in the panhandling ordinance.

"We might as well go ahead and nip it now than let it become a greater problem later on," Hurst said.

Council members are expected to consider additional provisions at their Jan. 7 meeting that would ban panhandling at night and keep beggars away from highway medians and ATMs. Another consideration is to ban them outright from downtown, an area striving to be hip and family friendly.

Fayetteville police would have to enforce any new regulations. It's not clear yet what penalties might be imposed for violations.

Raleigh already prohibits panhandlers from going on medians and the sides of roads, as well as banning them from asking for money at night and near ATMs. The city also requires panhandlers to obtain a free permit from the Raleigh Police Department.

In Durham, no panhandling is allowed at night.

Homeless advocates said the solution to panhandling in Fayetteville doesn't lie in tougher rules.

"I don't feel the city is doing enough to help those folks," said Tom Lambeth, manager of the City Rescue Mission, which sheltered 16 men before it burned in September.

Lambeth said he believes panhandling has increased since the fire. If Fayetteville provided more services for the homeless, he said, panhandling wouldn't be an issue.

"Now that we don't have a facility for them to sort of just hang around in and to eat all day, they're out on the street panhandling," he said.

James Gilchrist, a homeless, disabled man who recently came to Fayetteville and is staying at the Salvation Army, agreed that the city needs to provide more support for the homeless.

“There aren’t enough agencies here to help me out,” Gilchrist said. “I don’t have family or anyone here."

"If I could work, I would. I would prefer to work because it's degrading to have to resort to something like (begging)."


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  • Jayne Dec 29, 2007

    thanks Johnny... and yeah I know some of them have mental issues from being war vetarans (sp??) but isnt that what our government and the VA hospitals are for??? I love this country... leaving our vets out in the cold...

  • Trivr Dec 28, 2007

    Did anyone ever notice that with all the labor intensive charities like habitat and others that are completely dependent on volunteers, that it always seems to be the busy parent of three who gives of their time? With all the time the homeless they have on their hands, couldn't they help out at least a little?

  • TruthBKnown Dec 28, 2007

    "TruthBKnown, OK - I thought it seemed out of your character..."

    Well, part of my character is to occasionally rock the boat a bit, just to see who's listening. :)

  • JohnnyMalaria Dec 28, 2007

    "and yes I feel sorry for them but cant they try and get a real job?" - junkabuttafli07

    Sorry that you were in a precarious situation, especially at this time of year.

    If people are capable of trying then certainly they should - but they need assistance to get over various hurdles - such as needed a permanent address to get a job.

    However, many people are not able to try. People with mental disorders, former military and prisoners who have become so institutionalized that they simply cannot function in "our" world and the physically disabled.

    Each person has their own unique story. Labeling all homeless people the same helps to perpetuate the problem.

  • JohnnyMalaria Dec 28, 2007

    TruthBKnown, OK - I thought it seemed out of your character...

  • 434 Dec 28, 2007

    Many homeless people can't get jobs with corporate companies like McDonald's, Wal-Mart, etc. because they require home addresses, telephone numbers, the chance to take a regular shower and wash clothes, and the list goes on.

  • TruthBKnown Dec 28, 2007

    Pride keeps some people from working at places like McDonald's. I guess being homeless and proud is better than swallowing your pride.

  • Jayne Dec 28, 2007

    Johnny my family just recently went through a period where we thought we were gonna be on the streets... couldnt find a place for rent around the holidays... so I know how it is to feel scared of living on the streets... and yes I feel sorry for them but cant they try and get a real job? I mean places are hiring all over the place... Taco Bell, Mickey Ds, Family Dollar... even Wal-Mart...

  • TruthBKnown Dec 28, 2007

    No, I was just being sarcastic.

    I don't even like the UFC stuff. I'll watch a major boxing match from time to time, but I think it's all pretty violent and don't really care for it.

    I saw some of a Bumfights movie, and it was pretty sickening, actually. Just exploiting the depths to which that human beings have sunk.

  • JohnnyMalaria Dec 28, 2007

    "There was a guy that wanted to help the homeless. He paid them to star in his DVDs, called "Bumfights". Good stuff!" -

    That's obscene exploitation. Surely you don't condone it?