March 24, 2014
Panhandling: It’s Not Safe; It Doesn’t Help
With the coming of spring, motorists in the County may notice that panhandlers have returned to local intersections. County officials want to remind residents of the campaign launched last fall to address panhandling in Montgomery County.
The campaign, that asks that those who want to help to “Give a hand up, not a handout,” provides information about how to help panhandlers by donating to local resources that can provide assistance to those in need.
And, while panhandling is legal under the First Amendment, the simple truth is that giving cash to panhandlers doesn’t help. Those who work daily with panhandlers in homeless advocacy and other social service groups know that most panhandlers use the money they collect to support their addictions – drugs, alcohol and tobacco. None of that helps panhandlers solve their problems.
Panhandling also can cause distracted drivers and dangerous intersections.
Also, it has proven difficult to determine how the money collected will be spent. Most panhandlers are not homeless. Many come from outside Montgomery County, or even outside the state. For some, panhandling is a profession.
Extensive information about the campaign and how to provide assistance to panhandlers is available at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/panhandling/.