City in Conn. considers panhandling ban

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Several Connecticut communities have created local ordinances to ban panhandling, and now another is considering doing the same. 22News found out whether people think that would be a good idea here.

You may recognize Jeffrey Spiller. He stands near 391 in Holyoke, trying to collect enough money to get by. Spiller said, “On a good day I make $15-$20 dollars a day on the entire day, I go to McDonalds and eat and come back out.”

However, if he were in Connecticut, he’d have a harder time. A number of communities there banned panhandling, and now the City of Milford, could join that list.

Supporters have crafted an ordinance they hope police will feel comfortable enforcing. Milford’s attorney says its not about arresting people, it’s about identifying people in the community who need help.

Springfield Friends of the Homeless Executive Director Bill Miller told 22News the homeless in his shelter aren’t allowed to panhandle, simply because it’s not a solution to their problems. He said, “Getting quarters on the corner isn’t going to move them ahead in their lives.”

Miller also said he’d only support a ban if there were adequate services available to help them. “Some of the communities that are just more well off and don’t want to look at the poor, they may do something like that, I would probable disagree in those cases. I’d want to offer services rather than sweep people out of the way.”

Some find panhandlers to be a nuisance, while others just feel bad. “If I can give them a few extra dollars I will,” said Enfield’s David McAlmond.

Spiller says if he’s not hurting anyone, and he doesn’t see a problem. “I just hold a sign and if people want to give a dollar or what not, they give a dollar,” Spiller said.

Although, he knows some are more aggressive, giving them all a bad reputation. Worcester passed a similar ordinance prohibiting aggressive panhandling.

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