Mayor Kenney hopes to crackdown on aggressive panhandling while improving lives

- Philadelphia’s Kenney administration is pushing a new partnership with the local business community to improve the lives of the city’s homeless population while cracking down on aggressive panhandling.

If you live or work in Philadelphia, chances are you have seen evidence of homelessness and have been asked for money by a stranger.

"People come across and ask you for money or whatever,” one resident told us.  “Some are OK. Some are not so OK."

“Sad,” said another.  “Because it seems like there's more of them out here now."

Actually, the latest city count shows fewer homeless men and women on the streets. But construction projects at Love Park, Dilworth Park and Vine Street have rousted the homeless from their usual havens. In an office overlooking the LOVE Park construction, the city’s deputy managing director for Health and Human Services, Eva Gladstein says she hears about it from the business community, civic groups and just plain folks.

“It's more visible-  the people who are homeless, who appear to be homeless. People who appear to be panhandling and more aggressively."

The partnership between the city and business community-- set to begin in December—aims to provide better housing options and job training for the homeless, push for folks to stop giving cash to panhandlers, and move those mass outdoor feedings indoors and pair them with other needed social services.

"When people eat a meal we want them to be able to sit down and enjoy the company of other people and not be standing up in a line,” says Gladstein, who called it basic human dignity.

And when the new LOVE Park opens to the public do not expect a crackdown to keep the homeless and panhandlers out.

"We are not going to criminalize homelessness and that has never been our policy and it won't be our policy going forward," says Gladstein.

So the city will not roust homeless men and women who return to the newly re-opened LOVE Park?

“No,” says Gladstein.  “We’re not.”

Like past efforts, this new initiative will require money.  The business community has made its concerns about the problem clear.  Now it’s time to see if they’ll put their money up, to find a solution.

 

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