Greensboro to consider changing panhandling ordinance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro is considering changing its policy towards panhandling.

Right now, the city’s panhandling ordinance requires people to wear permits when they beg for money. The problem is people can’t get a permit for five years if they’ve been convicted of panhandling twice before.

“A lot of people have trouble getting a permit. Some people panhandling don't have a permit,” said Betty Harris, a panhandler on High Point Road.

City officials say people panhandling without a permit poses serious safety concerns.

“If you're getting out of your car near sunset in Greensboro and an individual approaches you as you're getting out of your car asking you for money, we believe it's important that you see around their neck a placard or permit that says, ‘I have been approved by the city of Greensboro to do this activity’," said City Attorney Tom Carruthers.

Because the current ordinance disqualifies a lot of panhandlers, the Greensboro City Council is considering changing to ordinance to only restrict people with violent criminal histories from getting the proper permit.

“It's a win, win. It reduces cost to the city, it reduces cost to the county and it prevents non-violent individuals from spending time in jail needlessly. It looks like the best approach all around,” said Carruthers.

Carruthers plans to present the ordinance amendment to the city council during their work session on Thursday. The city council is expected to vote on the change during their next meeting.

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