ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Homeless advocates in the St. Louis area are speaking out about the new rules of putting panhandlers on the sidewalk. They said taking them out of the streets is making it harder for them to receive the money they need to survive.
It may not seem the safest way to ask for help but for many panhandlers, some homeless, having close access to drivers is key to making money.
“When people lose housing, employment, healthcare services, they find themselves possibly in the street,” said Anthony D’Agostino, CEO of St. Patrick Center. “Acknowledging people as human beings is what we often times forget.”
Many cities in St. Louis county such as Manchester and Des Peres have tweaked their panhandling laws in response to a recent rise in the number of people in the street or on medians.
“We just hope it doesn’t turn into moving towards this idea that we criminalize homelessness,” D’Agostino said. “If it truly is a safety… issue and they just want to keep people safe, we’re all for that.”
The new rules have not only moved them over to the sidewalk but seemingly deterred them from certain areas.
“That’s cut a lifeline for them and many of them are suffering silently,” said Reverend Larry Rice, director of New Life Evangelistic Center. “Now, they’ve had to go further underground which has made it increasingly difficult.”
Rice and his team of volunteers had to search for those who need help. He said he believes the best permanent solution is walk-in shelters and hotel stays, which is something hard to come by.
“Rather than giving them a hand up, they slap it down and that’s so tragic,” Rice said.
You can read more about these changes here.