Downtown panhandling: It’s time for some change

What's up with all these packs of people dressed in filthy rags (often with numerous dogs) demanding money just for simply passing by them? You can't avoid these packs of gypsies. They're everywhere downtown! What's even more ridiculous is that City Council has done absolutely nothing to effectively address this problem that could easily be corrected.

The "spare change for real change" program has made no difference at all. It's just there for show. A more hands-on approach is needed; you do this by keeping these people occupied with small tasks such as cleaning sidewalks, picking up trash, etc. You give them spare change for these tasks, withholding a certain amount for a permit. A permit of the same nature that street musicians must obtain in order to perform on the sidewalk. By doing these tasks they will be less apt to hassle people for money, thus creating a "win-win" situation. It's that simple.

Also of very important note is that I know people sometimes have nowhere to go and simply need a little help. I've been there myself. However, a few of these people are violent, fresh out of county jail criminals, and will cuss you and fistfight you just for simply telling them you cannot spare any change. I've experienced this on numerous occasions.

I strongly urge City Council to address this problem immediately! I'm sick and tired of not being able to walk a quarter-mile down the road simply to get groceries without having to be on guard for a violent attack.

Most who are reading this live with these problems. It's time to speak out and share our solutions.

— David Hall
Asheville

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