Local cities working to stop “aggressive” panhandlers

Enfield residents held a public meeting about a proposed law to ban panhandlers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – You don’t have to go far, take a drive down west Columbus Avenue in Springfield or a trip to the Holyoke Mall, and you’ll run into people asking for money, sometimes they “demand” it.

Now some cities and towns say they’ve had enough. People in both Springfield and Holyoke have noticed an increase in panhandlers this summer. Holyoke City Councilor Linda Vacon proposed an ordinance to require permits for pan handlers, so far that ordinance has not been passed.

“People choose to live where they live, they pay taxes where they live based on what they want as their community and if they wanted to just live in a city where people walk around and they panhandle and its ok then they would, but they don’t want to,” said Deborah Leroux of Suffield, CT.

Just over the state line, Enfield residents took action this week. Monday night the town held a public meeting about a proposed law to ban what they call “Aggressive Panhandlers.”

Ordinances like these would prevent panhandlers from intimidating members of the public and in some cases prevent them from standing within 50 feet of a public road.

“I think they should cut down on it, I mean there’s plenty of jobs around. If you want to give to somebody go and get gift certificates” said Anny Kertanis of Enfield.

If the Enfield ordinance does pass, violating panhandlers would be fined $99 per offense.

Worcester also recently passed an ordinance to ban aggressive panhandling, but the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a federal appeals court to review the ordinance to decide whether it violates freedom of speech.

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