by Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing
Each summer I notice how tourism and homelessness do not get along very well.
Rather than providing day and night shelter services during the summer months, tourist cites do their best to move out homeless out of visible downtown locations. Homeless people are seen as bad for both tourism and economic development.
I been struck recently by the number of anti-homeless laws being proposed/implemented.
In Citrus Heights, CA the City Council is expected to pass an anti-panhandling law this week.
Salt Lake City is also heading down the same path.
And in America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, FL is considering ordinances restricting panhandling in certain locations and against aggressive panhandling.
And on the East Coast, Virginia Beach has found its solution by installing Donation Meters as a way to discourage panhandling. The monies collected will go to the middle man—that being agencies serving the homeless. If you donate a $1,000, your individual or corporate name will be affixed to the Meter.
We have been documenting this trend for many years and have produced five criminalization of homelessness reports this past decade complete with a bi-annual ranking of the meanest cities. See Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities. July 2009 for our most recent findings.
These tried and failed ordinances have not stopped panhandllng or ended homelessness.