I was shocked when I saw this story in today's Charelston Gazette: Businesses complain about panhandlers: Apartments at corner of Brawley Walkway targeted
. Charleston has a very bad problem with panhandlers and has since I moved here in 2000. I'm not sure why business owners have started to complain now or what can be done about. About the only thing that could be done would be to make panhandling illegal or find some way of moving the panhandlers out of downtown.
As long time readers of this blog knows, I have had my share of problems with panhandlers. I pass the ones on Brawley Walkway daily. They ask me for money every once in a while, but they leave me alone for the most part.
This problem is much bigger than the residents of the apartments at the corner of Brawley Walkway. I've been panhandled at many places along Capitol Street. One of the worst places for panhandling seem to between Slack Plaza and the mall.
I once almost got in a fight with a panhandler there a couple of years ago when I told him I didn't have any money. He was very rude, and I though he was going to take a swing at me.
Reading Bill Lynch's blog post
today reminds me of how many street people we have in Charleston and for the most part they are pretty well behaved. But people who panhandler are trying to feel one addiction or another: be it alcohol, crack, soft drinks, or candy. Others are just tying to get enough money to catch the bus home, and other do it just to see how much they can push people.
I'm not a fan of them, but I don't want to see people go without if they need to catch a bus. It appears the only way to attack the problem is for city council to pass a city ordinance outlawing panhandling. Such I move might also effect street performers who put out a hat for tips.
It would be interesting to see if the city has a plan for taking care of this problem, not that business owners have their attention.
Charleston, WV, West Virginia