The Debate Over Panhandling And The Criminalization Of Poverty

Sep 11, 2018

Panhandling has been a hot political topic in the city of Greensboro this year. 

In April, the Greensboro City Council got rid of a controversial ordinance passed years ago that required panhandlers to get background checks and to have a license before they could ask people for money in the city. There is an ongoing lawsuit over a panhandling ordinance passed in July – that ordinance has since been repealed. The city council passed a new solicitation ordinance in August which states that panhandlers cannot block the sidewalk, solicit in certain marked public parking areas, or repeatedly ask a person for money.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan about panhandling in Greensboro and why she stands behind the new ordinance. Marcus Hyde, an organizer with the Homeless Union of Greensboro, joins the conversation to share his perspective on how the ordinance negatively impacts the homeless community. Stasio also includes legal scholar Sara Sternberg Greene in the conversation to review the legal theory often used to strike down local panhandling ordinances. Greene is an associate professor of law at Duke University.