Virginia City: Don't Give Money to Panhandlers

The city of Hampton says about 75% of panhandlers in the city are not homeless and therefore their residents need to stop giving handouts.

HAMPTON - HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) -- Panhandling, for some it’s the only way they know how to survive but for others it’s a lucrative business. The city says they would like to put a stop to panhandling altogether. They are telling residents not to give handouts to anyone on the streets.

“People think it makes us look like a community of homeless people,” said Robin McCormick, city spokeswoman.

Human Services estimates that fewer than a quarter of panhandlers in the city are actually homeless.

“This is how people make money. Some of them have told us they make $200 or more dollars a day,” said McCormick.

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Not knowing where the money is going has become a point of confusion for residents who just want to help.

“I know for a fact that some of them are cheating us and some of them do need help, because I’m a nurse and I see both,” said Brandon Saada of Hampton.

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While local eateries say no matter what their intentions are panhandlers are just bad for business.

“People don’t want to be hassled when they are out just having a good time,” said Leah Horton of Goody’s Deli and Pub.

In an effort to solve this issue, the city will be installing 15 to 20 signs at frequent panhandling spots asking the public not to give them money. Instead the city says donate to a legit non-profit organization where you know it’s being put to good use.

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“I know for example the food bank for example if you give them a dollar it equates to four meals,” said McCormick. “There are a lot of non-profits that can do lasting good and help them get out of that situation.”

The city says if you see someone who really does appear to be in need there is a 24-hour-hotline number on every sign.

“We want people to know how they can get help,” said McCormick.

The city says they plan to start installing these signs within the next couple of weeks.

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