Columbus changing city panhandling laws - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus changing city panhandling laws

By Curtis McCloud -   bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Joseph Lee Simmons has spent the past four months living on the streets.

He calls himself a drifter. Not too long ago he lived in Americus, but for now he calls the streets of Columbus home.

We asked Joseph about a proposed ordinance that would not allow homeless people or anyone to aggressively beg for money after dark.

"There isn't any other help besides that. You have got to ask somebody," Simmons said.  

According to city leaders, there are nearly 1500 homeless people in Muscogee County.   

President of Uptown Columbus, Richard Bishop, says that the Homeless Task Force is determined to reduce that number.

"I think that is one of the things that our Homeless Task Force is working on, to come up with some solutions and some opportunities where the homeless do have solutions to take care of themselves," Bishop said.

Bishop and others in the downtown area admit they would like to see the panhandling subside.

"Uptown is a destination for visitors and even people who work and live do business in uptown, to be approached by a panhandler is sometimes a little disturbing especially to females," Bishop said.

While it is illegal to ban pan handling because of the 1st Amendment the city council can impose limits on the times and manner in which it is done.

The new section would not allow panhandling after dark, which means people at bus stops or in cars cannot be approached by beggars.

A proposal Simmons says he can abide by but also says more needs to be done to help those out on the streets.     

"I think there should be help in a way so they don't have to be out here on the street," Simmons said.

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