Articles, Blog

Cracking Down On Panhandling

October 19, 2019


YEARS OLD. NEW TONIGHT — IT’S SOMETHING YOU LIKELY SEE ALMOST EVERY DAY — PEOPLE STANDING ALONG THE STREET ASKING FOR MONEY. BUT THE LAWS PROHIBITING PANHANDLING COULD SOON GET A LOT TOUGHER — BRANDON SCOTT IS LIVE IN MIDTOWN WITH MORE. MALORIE & JOHN, THE OMAHA POLICE CHIEF IS ASKING THE CITY COUNCIL TO TOUGHEN PANHANDLING LAWS — MAKING IT A CRIME TO REPEATEDLY ASK SOMEONE FOR MONEY OR TO PANHANDLE IN STALLED TRAFFIC OR NEAR ATMS. AT A CITY COUNCIL MEETING TODAY, THAT PROPSAL MADE IT THROUGH THE FIRST OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS AND NEXT WEEK IT WILL BE OPEN FOR A PUBLIC HEARING. WHAT’S BEHIND OMAHA’S PANHANDLING PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE? WE WENT OUT ONTO THE STREETS TODAY TO FIND OUT. JEANNINE SAYS: “I USED TO STAY BY THE RIVER AND WE CALLED IT A FAMILY SO WE PUT ALL OF OUR MONEY TOGETHER TO GET US FOOD.” JEANNINE HARVEY FOUND HERSELF LIVING OUT ON THE STREETS OF OMAHA WHEN SHE TURNED 19 AND WAS TOO OLD FOR FOSTER CARE. SHE PANHANDLED — SOMETIMES MAKING NEARLY FIFTY DOLLARS PER DAY. SHE SAYS SHE MADE MORE MONEY WHEN SHE LIED. JEANINE SAYS: “IF YOU TELL THEM, “OH, I’M SICK, I’M TRYING TO GET TO ANOTHER STATE, THEY’RE MORE WILLING TO GIVE YOU MONEY. IT IS SAD THAT WE HAVE TO LIE, BUT I HAVE TRIED TELLING PEOPLE THAT I’M HOMELESS AND I NEED SOME MONEY AND THEY’RE LIKE, “NO, GET OFF THE STREETS. GET A JOB.” GREGORY SAYS: “THIS IS A JOB. THIS IS A RACKET. AND THEY ARE DECEIVING YOU WHEN YOU GIVE THEM THAT DOLLAR” CANDACE GREGORY RUNS OMAHA’S OPEN DOOR MISSION, WHERE VOLUNTEERS FEED AND HOUSE HUNDREDS OF HOMELESS EVERY DAY. GREGORY SAYS: “THERE’S VERY FEW PANHANDLERS IN OUR COMMUNITY THAT ARE LITERALLY STRANDED TRAVELERS OR DOWN ON THEIR LUCK — IT’S TRUE PEOPLE WHO ARE DECEIVING THE PUBLIC.” GREGORY BELIEVES MOST PANHANDLERS USE THE MONEY THEY RECEIVE NOT FOR BUYING FOOD, BUT RATHER TO FEED THEIR ADDICTIONS. GREGORY SAYS: “THEY GET ENOUGH TO GO BUY AN OPEN CONTAINER AND THEY CAN DO THAT TIME AFTER TIME AND ALL DAY LONG” A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY, “DON’T GIVE MONEY TO ANYONE WHO’S PANHANDLING ON THE STREET BECAUSE THEY’RE JUST GOING TO USE IT FOR DRUGS OR ALCOHOL.” “THAT’S AN ASSUMPTION. YES, THERE ARE A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE OUT THERE, BUT NOT ALL OF US ARE THE SAME. 34.26 JEANNINE TELLS ME THAT SHE NO LONGER LIVES ON THE STREET AND SHE DOESN’T PANHANDLE ANY MORE — BUT SHE HAS FRIENDS WHO STILL DO. JOHN AND MALORIE? BRANDON, IF THE MISSION BELIEVES GIVING MONEY IS ENABLING PANHANDLERS, WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE DO IF THEY’RE ASKED FOR MONEY? THE MISSION ACTUALLY HAS CARDS LIKE THESE — THEY’RE CALLED COMPASSION CARDS — AND THEY TELL PEOPLE WHERE THEY CAN GO FOR A FREE RIDE TO RECEIVE FREE FOOD AND SHELTER. AND COMING UP AT 6:30, WE’LL HAVE MORE DETAILS ON MORE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS. ANSWER THANK YOU!

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