Panhandlers in Greensboro: To give or not to give?

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A push to say “no” to panhandlers in Charlotte is starting a conversation in Greensboro about whether or not you should hand over the money.

Zack Matheny, the president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., says he’s received complaints about panhandlers from people who live, visit and have businesses downtown.

Anna Heroy has owned Old Photo Specialists on Elm Street with her husband for around 40 years. She says panhandling has been an issue for a while but has recently become more aggressive.

“Just this week, two have come into our business all the way through the building,” Heroy said.

“From a business standpoint it definitely impacts us because a lot of people get deterred from downtown, because they feel threatened or feel uncomfortable,” said Nick Wilson, co-owner of 1618 Downtown. “Some say they don't feel safe.”

Amy Murphy feeds the homeless every Monday morning. She also created little blue and green books to help people find meal and food pantry locations. She says three free meals a day are available seven days a week in the city.

Murphy also says not giving cash to panhandlers could stop them from asking for more money.

“We need to get some long-term help instead of doing what makes us feel better for five minutes,” Murphy said.

Instead of giving money to panhandlers, Murphy recommends people donate to an organization that helps the homeless get out of the situations they are in.

“It would be a really good idea if everybody came together and we all did something,” Heroy said.

“I definitely don't think people should be pushed out of an area that they have the right to be in,” Wilson said. “Again, it's just trying to find that balance of how to get everyone to feel comfortable in their downtown.”

Matheny said he hopes bringing up this question will encourage people to consider Charlotte's initiative and find out what we can do better here in Greensboro.

If you do see or decide to donate to a panhandler in Greensboro, you should know that they are required to have a permit with the city.