On Tuesday, April 7th, the Greensboro City Council will consider a proposed change to the panhandling ordinance, limiting the hours to 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The current ordinance doesn’t specify hours, it prohibits panhandling after sunset. If Council approves the change, panhandlers will lose some hours of begging time during the summer, but they will be allowed to panhandle after dark during part of the winter, when sunset comes before 6:00 p.m.
A friend asked some people on the street for their thoughts on panhandling:
“Ppls thoughts on pan handling. it gets them what they need. they go around town and ask for money and get their alcohol.- he likes it cuz he can get ten or twenty dollars, he goes down to the dope mans house-she does it so she can get some smokes and a beer-he likes it cuz he doesnt have to work, he can get money by flying his sign and he can get the things he needs to get like clothes. he sometimes gets crack and always beer-he says he gets money to smoke crack. he has a job and pays his rent. he asks for money just to get his crack-two ppl-we want a dime. we are 48 and 58. we just want to get a dime of crack and then go again. -he has a house, he has a wife. yet he goes around town asking for money to smoke crack. his wife hates it, and wont give him money cuz he smokes it up. thats all for now”
What if Council changed the panhandling hours to… I don’t know… never?
Saw this sign-flying faux pas near downtown the other day:
Where not to stand when panhandling.
From “Panhandling 101, Greensboro Style:”
“You canâ€™t step off the sidewalk and into the roadway while panhandling. (That means if someone in a car in a middle lane wants to give you money, you canâ€™t go into traffic to get it. They would need to come to you.) “
I took this photo from a parking lot where I had stopped to look through the snacks, hygiene items and blankets I keep in my car to give to homeless people — planning to take something to him. But even with my car window rolled up, I could hear him loudly and creatively cursing the drivers of cars who passed by without stopping, and I noticed that he had two companions sitting in a corner of the parking lot cheering him on. From the looks of things, they may well have been under the influence of another form of cheer. So I decided to wait until another day, when I have some company along with me,Â to make this particular gentleman’s acquaintance.
Today on my way home from church, I saw one of the many U.S. military veterans that I know who are or have been homeless in Greensboro. He was flying a sign at his usual corner. I stopped to say hello and asked if I could take a picture of his sign.
I was glad to hear that he’s inside right now, staying in a basement room until he can get into something better. His small VA pension isn’t enough to pay the rent. He’s eligible for Social Security disability, but that can be a long process. He’d like to get a Section 8 housing voucher, but the waiting list is long. So for now, he flies a sign to help pay the bills. He says, “These things don’t happen overnight. You just have to wait.” I admire his attitude and patience. I rarely hear him complain.
He has a car, but it’s not on the road right now. It needs some repairs that he can’t afford to make. He’s optimistic about part-time job prospects, a little something here and there, once the weather warms up. He’s a regular at his church and his faith in the LORD never seems to waver. I know there are some issues that he deals with, but he was peaceful and happy today, and it was good to see his smiling face.
This is my friend Terry. He’s been homeless in Greensboro for four years. He’s camped under bridges, in the woods, and in empty houses and buildings all over town. He feels safer outside than in the shelters. (A lot of homeless people feel this way.)
Terry likes to work.Â And he works hard.Â Today he was painting for a local business owner.Â Yesterday, he was doing auto repair.Â He also does yard work.Â He builds things.Â He’s good at moving things — strong and quick.Â Terry flies a sign, but he’s not looking for a hand-out, he’s looking for a job.
This is a photo of a homeless, pregnant friend of mine, flying a sign at a busy Greensboro intersection on a cold winter afternoon. The sign reads:
Lost Job. Pregnant. Homeless. Hungry. Anything helps! God bless!
She and her husband are expecting a baby in a couple of months. They have a camp under a bridge and they sometimes sleep on a relative’s couch when the nights get too cold. They’re on a waiting list for a government housing voucher. She recently lost a job and both are looking for employment. She had an interview this week and is waiting to hear back. I hope she gets the job.
I’ve known them for at least five years, and I know some of the struggles they face. I love them both. I’d love to see them inside, in their own place, before the baby is born. But my friend said to me today, while she took a break from holding her sign,
“Being homeless and pregnant’s not a priority for getting housing anymore. There’s too many people in need now.”
A sad reality.