Aggressive panhandling a problem in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. — City officials say aggressive panhandling has become a problem for some drivers and business owners in Greensboro.

“There are a few out here that when they don’t get their way, they do things they shouldn’t do … like cuss people out, beat on the cars and stuff like that,” said David Gaither, while panhandling on High Point Rd.

Gaither, 58 years old, says he relies on the generosity of strangers.

“Don’t you see what it says? Homeless. I got nothing,” said Gaither. “I worked all my life. Never thought my life would come down to holding this sign. It hurts me.”

Panhandling is allowed in the city of Greensboro with a permit. However, city officials say restrictions against aggressive begging aren’t working.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan says the city needs to take a two-pronged approach to addressing the problem.

“I do not believe we should criminalize panhandling. But I do think we should have the ability to move people along to get them to the right spot, where people are less threatened,” said Vaughan.

Vaughan says another element could be partnering with Guilford County to increase budgets for programs that keep people off the streets in the first place.

As of Thursday, Greensboro police say 156 people have permits to panhandle in the city. However, Gaither isn’t one of them.

“I got 15 charges right now from holding this sign. Lock me up, beat me, I don’t care. I got to live,” said Gaither.

The current city ordinance prohibits panhandlers from begging on medians, curbs, cross-walks and in the roadways. Panhandlers must also stay 1,000 feet away from any entrance or exit of a highway and 100 feet from banks or ATMs.

18 comments

  • Diane Purcell

    I agree that we need more programs to avoid the whole situation. I feel for most of them, I truly do – but when you see the same people for 10 years, you have to assume it’s a full time job they could be doing elsewhere rather than standing on a street corner. Just sayin..

  • Ted

    I watched the woman that used to stand at the I40 off ramp to Wendover Ave. She would park her late model Kia SUV at Sheetz and walk over and hold a homeless sign there. The Kia also had one of those “We Buy Houses” magnetic sticker on the sides. These people are not who you think they are. This is a very lucrative occupation in some cases.

    • Jen

      I saw the same lady!! She was using crutches the time I saw her. After she hobbled over from where she was holding her sign she got around the sheetz building started walking normal and through her crutches in the back seat of her car (which is nicer than mine by the way) and drove off.

    • MSBHIGHPOINT

      I agree with Ted–I saw the exact same thing except this lady parked her BMW in the Sam’s Club parking lot right beside me. got out of her with her sign in hand cut through the bushes to hold up her sign. I gave her a piece of mind but she went ahead anyway. For that reason I keep my money in my wallet. It’s a shame.

  • PeopleEatingTastyAnimals = PETA

    There is a guy at spring garden and market st. who has been there for several years. it’s a lot easier to hold a sign and do nothing for your income. but it is pathetic and weak. I’m embarassed when friends and family visit Greensboro and see these people on seemingly every intersection.

  • Concerned beggers beware

    Someone from the news should go up to Wendover at the corner where the Christian store Lifeway is located nearest Baby’ R Us.
    There is a man that stands on the corner median on wendover with another women. He actually drives a Mercedes and parks it in the parking lot at Lifeway. I followed him one day because I was going to Target and saw him yelling at a lady while I was at the median turning towards Target. I watched him go get into the Mercedes that had a nice white shirt hanging up in this Mercedes. Followed him to Sheets where he went into the store and came back out with coffee. He then went back over to Wendover and resumed his begging. Really? Dont believe me, go up to the median at Wendover and the Baby’s R Us side nearest the Lifeway parking lot. The car will be parked closest to Wendover.
    What a fake!!!!

  • kelley

    Raven, it’s not these people or my place to better this person’s life. If he can stand around all day with a sign, he can take advantage of shelters, half way houses and other programs and possibly find himself a way out. I have seen a young man beg who lives in an apartment with his sister and who just refused to work, he claimed to have a brain Injury… Yeah. He had an old scar. You need to back off.

  • Bill Garrot

    Could Greensboro not stop giving permits and outlaw panhandling altogether? I NEVER give money to these people as I do not wish to enable substance dependence. At the same time, if Greensboro got them off the corners and put money drop boxes for homeless services, I would happily roll down my window and deposit money from time to time.

  • Frank

    The homeless man being interview is so scripted it is comical. All of his mannerisms are intentional, meant for others to feel sorrow for him. What a joke.

  • sucko

    do not judge those in need from the comfort of your computer faith c do u work or collect a check you live on channel 8 bunch of keyboard pansies

  • Chris Boyles

    I work at a home less mission and I see the abuses. God will Judge them. But there are some who no fault of their own, and over fifty, when it is hard enough for a qualified applicant get a job, that need help where the Church dropped the ball and let these people down. “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

    “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

    “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

  • Chris Boyles

    Plus, Using wisdom to point out the abusers so the rest of us can be warned is a good thing too. Cuts out on those who are trying to help from getting a bad rap….

  • anna

    when I first got off the streets I had to panhandle to just get food stocked in the house- I was more grateful for those donations than the actual money, although the money also went for food- some of the people out there are for real. ps -the food banks don’t usually give out perishables- how are you supposed to make mac and cheese without butter and milk?

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