Preventing panhandling in Holyoke

In some cases, it could be considered a crime

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke wants to crack down on panhandlers, and in some cases, make it a crime.

You see it more frequently in the summer months, panhandlers waiting at intersections asking for your money.

“It’s pretty irritating, people hassling you, coming up to your car, it makes people feel uncomfortable,” said Bob Goodreau of Springfield.

That’s just one of the reasons why Holyoke City Councilor Linda Vacon wants to crack down on panhandlers. She said it’s not just an uncomfortable situation, but shop owners have complained its bad for business.

“How is this attractive to business developing in the city? Attracting more business to the city,” Vacon told 22News.

Vacon’s proposing the city require panhandlers to get a permit, and ban all panhandling at all major entrances to Holyoke. Councilor Vacon said one of the biggest trouble spots in the city is near the Holyoke Mall, and near the I-391 on and off-ramps into the city.

She said residents have complained they get suck at lights near those intersections, and panhandlers walk right over demanding money, and residents are trapped.

In terms of crime, it’s also been proposed that if panhandlers make false statements, like pretending to be a veteran, or panhandle within 50-feet of a bank or ATM, they’d face charges.

“I mean everyone has their own struggle, so I don’t judge. If they need money and I have it, I give it to them,” said Destiny Velasquez, who visits Holyoke.

If the proposal moves forward, the ordinance committee will craft the rule in such a way to ensure the city doesn’t infringe on residents rights.

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