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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What To Do About Panhandling On Roosevelt Island Asks Resident - No Legal Way To Get Rid Of Panhandling Says Mayor deBlasio, Are There Any Good Solutions?

A Roosevelt Island resident reported on July 27:
I'm curious to know other Islander's point of view and thoughts about one of the panhandlers on the island.

This evening in Duane Reade, the guy who is generally blocking the doors at the F train, rolled in and cut in front of a long line of people to purchase cigarettes. Of course he tells those he's begging from in the station he's buying food. I also witnessed him steal a lighter from the shelves in front of the cashiers. I called him out on it, he called me an ass, and I made sure the employees at Duane Reade knew he took the lighter.

Is public safety doing anything to address this guy in particular? He leaves trash and messes all over, obviously steals from businesses on the island, and becoming more of a nuisance. I understand misfortune and honest asking for help, but this man is not the latter.

For visitors coming to the Island via the train, he's our welcoming committee.
According to the NYC Government web site:
You can report panhandling. If it is in progress, it is considered an emergency situation. If it occurred in the past or occurs repeatedly at the same location, officers from your local police precinct will respond when they are not handling emergency situations.
Call 911 to report the panhandling in progress.
NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio was asked about panhandling issue on the July 7 WNYC Brian Lehrer radio program. According to the transcript from the Mayor's Office:
... Lehrer: Did you say you wish panhandling – just asking people for money – would be illegal?

Mayor: I’m saying that not as a matter of policy, I’m saying that as a human being, bluntly, Brian. To so many people, I think it’s off-putting and again it gets confused understandably for homelessness because you don’t whether someone has a home and is panhandling versus someone who literally has no place to sleep last night. I just wish it didn’t exist.

I know constitutionally, of course, it cannot be banned but I’m just expressing a frustration because I think it hurts the quality of life in many ways.

Lehrer: I’m just trying to clarify. Are you saying that you’re objecting to people making up being homeless when they’re not homeless? Or do you really not like poor people on the street asking others for money?

Mayor: What I’m responding to is, I think it, to many people, it does appear that someone is homeless. And, yeah, they give help to someone thinking that they are homeless. And I think some people are out there panhandling because they are truly in need. And obviously I’d rather address their problem directly not having them be out on the street panhandling. I’d rather help them because we would help them. Anyone in real need, we’re going to help them get a roof over their head. We’re going to help them if they need any kind of service.

We’re going to help them try and find a job. That’s what the City of New York does. But there are also people out there who are just begging for money and it’s not out of dire economic need, and that is frustrating to me.

Again, I know there’s no legal way to get rid of that per say but it is frustrating....
The July 11 Citylab reported on a possible "Smarter Solution To Regulate Panhandling":
... Encourage what we call “successful panhandling,” which brings together willing donors and willing solicitors; and discourage “unsuccessful panhandling,” which targets people who don’t even want to see solicitations, let alone give money to someone asking for help on the sidewalk.

What’s wrong with most anti-panhandling ordinances is that they try to ban or discourage both kinds instead of promoting the former and discouraging the latter.

Panhandling credentials

The policies we think will work best would spread information about panhandlers, particularly through the issuance of credentials. The basic problem now is that potential donors know very little if anything about the panhandlers they encounter. That makes them reluctant to give....
Click here for the full Citylab article on credentials for panhandling.

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