panhandler-dickens

Some 1st Ward residents say they’ve just about had it with panhandlers in downtown Evanston.

Not a new issue: A drawing of a beggar illustrating a Sherlock Holmes mystery in an 1891 magazine.

Some 1st Ward residents say they’veve just about had it with panhandlers in downtown Evanston.

The vexed residents asked Alderman Judy Fiske at a ward meeting Tuesday night to persuade her fellow aldermen to pass something more substantial than the current ordinance to curb the practice.

Many offered their own panhandling stories, claiming the practice made them feel uncomfortable, harassed and unsafe.

Evanston has tried to regulate panhandling at least since the mid 1990s, starting with efforts to persuade residents to give to charities, rather than directly to those begging on the streets.

The city banned so-called “aggressive panhandling” in 2001 and barred solicitation near ATM machines, on trains and buses or their stations, and in certain other locations, including sidewalk cafes.

Earlier this year the city expanded the ordinance to limit door-to-door solicitation.

But Police Community Strategies Officer Scott Sengenberger told residents at the meeting that, under the current ordinance, “panhandling is legal in the city of Evanston.”

Sengenberger said the city’s law bans panhandlers from approaching people who could not otherwise walk away, for example, when they’re stopped at a red light or dining at a sidewalk cafe. Panhandlers are not allowed to touch people and if someone says no and they continue to ask for money, Sengenberger said that would be considered aggressive panhandling and is punishable under the current law.

“Everywhere else they can [panhandle], as long as they do not violate these boundaries,” he said.

He said police cite or arrest on average about one person a week for aggressive panhandling — 47 last year and 34 so far this year.

Efforts in some communities to bar panhandling have been rejected by courts that found the rules violated First Amendment free speech rights.

But some residents at the 1st Ward meeting said Evanston was behind on the issue — claiming that many cities have banned panhandling completely.

That apparently is not true. But some towns in Florida have been especially aggressive in trying to limit panhandling. Orlando, for example has required panhandlers to obtain city permits and restricted them to begging within a limited number of designated blue boxes painted on city sidewalks.

Orlando, like Ottawa, Ontario, has also set up “homeless meters” — repurposed parking meters — near spots where panhandlers congregate — to let people give to charities, rather than directly to the needy.

At left: Ottawa calls its donation boxes for the homeless “kindness meters.” 

But Paul Selden, executive director of Connections for the Homeless, said today that panhandlers may just be a fact of city life, and not something that should be legislated out of town.

First, he said, not all panhandlers are homeless; some simply panhandle to supplement their income.

“But in a city the size of Evanston, we will have a homeless population of at least 850 people,” Selden said.

“If the number of people panhandling is five or six on the street, Evanston is doing pretty well,” he said. “That doesn’t diminish that it’s irritating.”

But just because it’s bothersome doesn’t mean it should be outlawed, he said.

“Obviously it’s an income, and in a town that’s done so little for affordable housing,” a ban would decrease panhandlers’ “ability to pay rent here or survive.”

Panhandling in Evanston, Selden suggests, may actually be the result of simple economic supply and demand, Selden said.

“There are those who encourage panhandling by giving to panhandlers, and panhandlers come here because it is a generous city,” he said.

But Selden said there are other ways to help those in need — giving to and volunteering at soup kitchens and giving to organizations like Connections for the Homeless, to name a few.

Selden said Evanston could also try some strategies to curb the practice.

“You could create more affordable housing. You could really make an effort. You could in effect register people, you could in effect license them,” he said.

Or, he said, “You could simply accept this is part of the urban landscape these days.”

If a ban on panhandling ever comes up at a City Council meeting, Selden said he would definitely oppose the measure, and would argue that there are better ways of dealing with the issue.

Despite his own distaste for panhandling, Selden said there are many other organizations that annoy him with solicitation, some of them charitable organizations.

“I think if you’re going to ban [panhandling], you’ve got to ban them all,” he said. 

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36 Comments

  1. Panhandling at sidewalk cafe’s

    This weekend there were two panhandlers sitting at the tables for Chipotle.  They were not aggressive, but did ask everyone sitting outside and everyone that came by for money.  Not surprisingly, it was not super comfortable sitting at the next table eating. 

    Beyond that, I've found most panhandlers in downtown evanston to be respectful and not aggressive.  I think enforcing the restrictions in the current laws makes sense, but beyond that it is mostly just part of life in a city like Evanston.

  2. I love the First Ward Residents who show up to Fiske’s Meetings

    You gotta love Fiske's NIMBY Crew!  Get rid of bikes!  Get rid of Panhandlers!  Get rid of Students! Get rid of Big Buildings! 

    Seriously, Evanston is a university city abutting one of the largest cities in the country.  There is no way you are going to make this place like Hilton Head, SC.  Deal with the fact you live in a diverse community.

    1. Yes, I agree

      Essentially, I agree with this post.  I would like to ban foolish City Council decisions – these things are just a fact of life. But could we please ban the use of "NIMBY"?

  3. Free Church & Sherman!

    More than panhandlers, a representative of just about every kind of cause you can think of is, seemingly, standing on at least one of the corners of Church & Sherman on just about every decent day of the week.

    Anyway, can't we figure out how to license all of this business? If you're operating a charity or business (of one) in Evanston (i.e., if money is being solicited), you ought to be made to, somehow, register. And given that panhandling is a dead-end gig if ever there was one, the registrant ought to be directed to those organizations that might improve his or her circumstances.

  4. 3rd ward too

    I am voicing support for the ban of panhalding.

    Alderman and Mayor, please consider walking down Chicago Ave, walk to Jewel, walk outside Starbucks, Outside Union, people are panhandling everywhere.  Just wait until Trader Joe's opens! Welcome to Evanston.

    My biggest issue is that over the past year they are becoming more and more aggressive. One specifcially is always drunk, outside the Jewel at night and at Whole Food north during the day. Vomtiing and urinating in the Jewel entry way.  I've called the police a few times, but seems like their hands are tied in this.

    Hang out by the Jewel after 5, it's ridiculous.  

    Ban panhandling first.

    1. ‘No Soliciting’ signs

      I noticed two large "No Soliciting" signs were recently installed near the entrance of Jewel Foods on Chicago Ave., and that they appear to be working, at least when I'm passing by. 

      My own casual observation of panhandling in downtown Evanston is that some people are quite generous. A woman employing the oft-used "I'm stranded and I need money to get home" story convinced a man walking down the street with his date to open his wallet and hand her a whopping $7. (Of course, the woman was still hitting up other pedestrians two hours later.)

      My take is that a lot of people (esp. young NU students) give money more out of a conscious or subconsciuous fear of pandhandlers becoming violent than concern for their economic plight.

  5. What is Mr. Selden talking about?

    Can someone explain what Paul Seldon of Connections for the Homeless is talking about?  Here's the quote:

    “Obviously it’s an income, and in a town that’s done so little for affordable housing," a ban would decrease panhandlers’ "ability to pay rent here or survive.”

    Evanston is a "town that's done so little for affordable housing"?  I do not know this person or his organization but does he have Evanston's data confused with Glencoe or Winnetka?

    If he had said that certain areas of town have been asked to do so little to host affordable housing, maybe I would not find the comment so puzzling.  But I know that my area of town has done a lot to host affordable housing.

    1. While Evanston has Section 8

      While Evanston has Section 8 rentals, access to vouchers is like winning a lottery. There is a long wait even for those who do recieve the benefit.

  6. My bad experiences with Evanston panhandlers

    If anyone is keeping track of these comments — I, too, had a bad experience with a downtown panhandler and another bad experience with a Main Street commercial area panhandler. 

    My child and I were at a bank ATM just off Church Street.  The female panhandler approached us from behind while I was pushing the buttons on the ATM.  I politely said no.  She remained standing right behind us until I had finished.

    When we left the ATM, the panhandler followed close behind us and continued to ask for money repeatedly.  I crossed the street to get away from her but she crossed the street, too, and continued to follow us.  I needed to pick up my child (who wasn't small enough to be carried any more in most situations) so I could speed up, cross the street again and get away from this person.  Once inside a store, I called the police, told them what happened and where I was, then waited inside the store for about 10 minutes, staying near the windows while I browsed so I could see the police car.  No sign of the police responding so I went home.

    I had a very similar episode on Main Street.  My child and I retreated to our car to get away from an aggressive male panhandler and drive away.  Not dissuaded, the male panhandler stood by my driver's door, crouching down, staring in our window and not moving.  I could not drive away without making contact with the man so we were trapped in the car.  Police did respond that time and I was told that the man had "mental problems" and he lived in a facility located nearby.  That explanation did not change the scary aspects of the entire episode.  And police said they would "talk" to the man but no other action was taken.

    These episodes have reduced my desire to go to downtown Evanston and to the Main Street commercial area.  Based on that episode and other reasons (high-cost parking meters, real risk of a parking ticket if I shop 2 minutes too long, lack of desirable shopping or dining destinations), I have gone to downtown Evanston almost not all since that downtown episode.  I have gone to Dave's Rock Shop a couple of times since the Main Street episode but that's it.  I have chosen to shop elsewhere and use the ATM elsewhere, typically outside Evanston.

    I have frequented dozens of commercial areas in my life but episodes like this only happened in Evanston.  I have been approached by panhandlers in hundreds of locations (including downtown Chicago) but none of those panhandlers have been anywhere nearly as aggressive as the panhandlers in Evanston.

    I don't have a suggestion on what the City should do.  Just relaying my two very bad experiences in Evanston commercial areas and how they affected my shopping behavior.

    1. Re: Main Street Panhandlers

      I’ve lived near Main/Chicago for the last 11 years. In that time, here’s what I’ve observed:

      "Albany Care" on Main Street and Maple near Ridge supplies care for a lot of folks who cannot function normally in society. http://www.albanycare.com

      Many of the folks I've seen on Main who ask for money come from this location. Many of these folks have "off campus" privileges, and though they do not really need clothing, room/board, or food – they are apt to go out and ask for “supplemental income” to feed their extracurricular needs. (Smoking, Coffee, Booze, a Sandwich, whatever.)

      Many of these people I recognize. Many of these people make stuff up to get their "fix".
      Most of these people are not hostile or aggressive. Some, however, are.
      Those who are hostile usually don’t last long.

      The bottom line is – if anyone (and I do mean anyone) – is up in your face and harassing, threatening, berating, or otherwise making you go out of your way to avoid them – call the cops. Plain and simple.

      It doesn’t matter who a person is or where they come from – harassment is harassment, and assault is assault.

      My right to speak my mind to you or follow you ends when it becomes clear that you fear for your personal safety.

      It’s called “assault” by the Cops – “An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm.”

       

  7. Never give to panhandlers

    I own a restaurant downtown and I know virtually all of the panhandlers who "work" the streets here.  When we first opened they used to come in and ask for food, I obliged, big mistake. We got marked and soon had a steady stream of panhandlers asking for free food every day.

    I started telling them they would have to work one hour for $10 per hour and I would also give them a free meal afterwards. Not one single panhandler ever took me up on the offer, not once, not ever, period.  

    Some called me names, some were offended that I had the nerve to ask them for an hour of paid labor and demanded free food anyway. In the end it became clear to them and they stopped coming in.

    Time to end this B.S.

    1. An Idea that I think was tried—did it fail ?

      Years ago in Chicago and I think Evanston, churches and other organizations would give to those in need and specifically panhandlers coupons that would be good for food at specific fast food places.  Of course a fast food place [like a Burger King] would have to agree to create and/or accepted the coupons.  As crime reports show "can I ask you a question" frequently leads to getting close enough to rob the person.

      I got the feeling this failed for some reason—panhandlers selling them, trading for liquor, copying of them,  not enough used for merchants to bother ?

      Besides the stories people will tell [like I see one woman coming into the Burger Kind on Orrington and asking for money several times an hour on weekends and then approaching/following people in that area], we see how some of them spend their time.  If their problems are 'real' [mental, alcohol/drugs , get help from the city or other charity organizations in Evanston.  Otherwise 1. Try to get a job eight hours a day 2. If don't have the skills, try to get training from the city or other organizations 3. Read [or learn how to read] so skills can help get a job.  Sitting in front of computers at EPL all day [some seem to have figured out how to extend their hours or pass library IDs around] listening to music and watching videos or playing 'Crazy Birds.' These will definitely not help them. Yet I see these people at EPL everyday and coming day by day and month by month from Lake Street Church.

    2. I think your offer is an

      I think your offer is an example of an attitude that would lead to a more ethical approach to people in that position. Instead of judgement or anger, you offer an opprotunity for them to earn money and food. It is easy to say "get a job like the rest of us," but that ignores the fact that oftentimes panhandlers are in a position where that is difficult. You offer them a chance to work for what they are asking for, and while none have taken you up on that offer, I feel that some who perhaps have never inquired for free food might take you up on an offer to earn money from you if they came across it.

      Many who panhandle do seem in need of medical and/or psyciatric care and are therefore unable to function as well as most. Perhaps an active outreach program to connect people to resources (with care taken to avoid dehumanising those seeking help) can make it so less people feel the need to panhandle. I do not know the experiences these people have had to make them unwilling to take you up on your offer, but I do think there are some who would. 

  8. Homeless come from Chicago

    A good number of homeless come to Evanston from Chicago because of our generous attitudes and organizations. But they can be very aggressive, a couple smoking pot and asking for money when we had our small children with us outside Chipotle was my latest experience. Because we have such dedicated groups like Hilda's place, I feel that this population will have many benefits even if we make our panhandling ordinances stronger and more effective.

  9. Panhandling so bad I made a Soup-Kitchen Cheat Sheet

    The Panhandling has gotten so bad downtown Evanston I made a Soup-Kitchen Cheat-Sheet.

    Between the corporations asking for signups/handouts/etc. and panhandlers, it's difficult to shop or buy lunch!

    Here's the latest information I could find on Soup Kitchens.
    As it turns out – you don't need a handout to eat, and there are services to help with other needs.

    I applaud the efforts of the locations below, and advise anyone who wishes to give money to a panhandler to donate to these organizations instead!

    Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue 1224 Dempster, Evanston, IL 60201
    Wednesdays 5:30-7pm 847-869-4230
    Rabbi Andrea C. London
    info@bethemet.org or soupkitchen@bethemet.org

    Ebenezer AME Church 1109 Emerson St., Evanston, IL 60201
    Thursdays 11:30am 847-328-1707
    Pastor Patricia Efiom churchoffice@ebenezeramec.org

    First United Methodist Church of Evanston 516 Church St., Evanston, IL 60201
    Thursdays 6pm 847-864-6181
    Rev. Dean Francis office@faithatfirst.com

    Good News Community Church 7649 N. Paulina St., Chicago, IL 60626
    Daily 5:30pm 773-262-2277
    Rev. Charlene Hill, Senior Pastor goodnews7649@yahoo.com

    Hemenway United Methodist Church 933 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
    Tuesdays 4-6pm 847-328-2600
    Rev. Richard Mosley hemenwayumc@gmail.com

    Hospitality Center for the Homeless 1509 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
    Monday-Friday 7-11am 847-475-1150
    Sue Murphy, Administrative Director Description:
    Provides services for the homeless at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Including employment counseling. 
    "Spiritual guidance, nutritious snacks, medical, mental health and educational referrals. Facilities
    may be used for grooming."

    Just Harvest, A Good News Community Kitchen,
    7649 N. Paulina St., Chicago, IL. 60626, Northside P.O.W.E.R., 7659 N. 
    Monday-Friday 5:30-6:30pm 773- 262-2297
    Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, Executive Director marilyn@gnck.org

    Second Baptist Church 1717 Benson St., Evanston, IL 60201 Mon,
    Tuesday Noon 847- 869-6955
    Rev Mark A. Dennis Jr. Senior Pastor 

    St. Paul's Lutheran Church (ELCA) 1004 Greenwood St., Evanston, IL 60201
    Sundays 3pm 847- 475-3403
    Pastor Betty Landis office@stpaulevanston.org

  10. Comprehensive policies

    I completely agree with Mr. Selden. A comprehensive package of tools to address this issue for all involved is much smarter than a Draconian ordinance that is nearly impossible to regulate.

  11. Please don’t encourage scammers

    I would rather be directly asked for money by a panhandler than to be approached by con artists with phony stories about things like raising money for "a member of the ETHS basketball team who got killed the day before in a gang shooting on Howard Street" and being handed a flyer advertising a nonexistent memorial service.

    I have seen such scammers in all parts of town and I am saddened to see that so many people hand over cash without thinking about the story, especially elderly people.

    I called the ETHS Athletic Department and police to ask about this and it was said to be a well-known scam. I also don't like all those people selling candy that is supposed to benefit an athletic team in Chicago, and when I have asked for identification or something showing they were authorized to be selling on behalf of the school, they don't have anything like that, and when I asked for the name and address of the school it sometimes turned out that the school didn't exist.

    I also have been asked while shopping in Evanston, especially in front of the Chicago Ave Jewel store, to donate to nonexistent church ministries and social service agencies in Chicago. (I asked for the info and looked it up.)

    I especially don't like being approached inside a store or cafe by people with highly dubious causes they are collecting for and no ID or authorization to raise money, and the people working in the stores appear afraid to talk to them about what they are doing.

    I wish there was some oversight of this kind of thing and that people would be careful to give to those legitimately in need. There are so many people with legitimate profound needs that I hate to see money go to scammers instead.

  12. Panhandling

    Since the panhandlers have found Evanston a lucrative place to make money, why aren't they taxed on their incomes like the rest of us?

  13. it is at least constitutionally unsettled

    There is a circuit court split on the constitutionality of limiting panhandling.  the 9th circuit says it is a first amendment violation and the 2nd circuit says it is constitutionally permissible to limit in certain circumstances as long as AMPLE other opportunities for the activity are permitted.  So panhandling in Grand Central Staiton is prohibited but this is precisely BECAUSE it is allowed elsewhere in the city.

    The Supreme Court has yet to take up the issue directly.  

    But I will say that if our neighbors in Skokie could tolerate Nazis in the name of free speech, I think we should be able to tolerate some panhandling.  

    1. Factually Incorrect

      1) Skokie fought against the Nazi attempt to march and lost a court battle.

      2) The Nazi group never marched.

      3) The march would have been a 1 time organized event; while panhandling is an everyday occurrence.

      4) Why are you comparing Nazis to panhandlers? One is a hate group while the other is a group that we hate to encounter.

      1. these are all right

        1.  yes I know.

        2.  yes I know.

        3.  yes I know.

        4.  because they both implicate the first amendment restriction on free speech.  

        If you don't hink Skokie dealt with Nazis (though there was no 'march') I recommend Downs, Nazis in Skokie (Univ of Notre Dame Press, 1984).

        If you want the full argument about speech restrictions, you can read my book, Nielsen, License to Harass:  Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech  (Princeton University Press, 2006).

        The standard for how the court determines the level of scrutiy it will apply is whether ot not the speech regulation is "content-based" or "content-neutral".  If you pass a ban on one kind of speech (in this case, asking for money), you get strict scrutiny.  Strict scrutiny requires that there be a "compelling state interest" and this has to be the "least restrictive means" for achieving the interest. 

        There is no compelling state interest here.  And to pretend that a begging restriction is not content-based is intellectually dishonest (tho some courts have).  

         

        1. Me Again,I am impressed. I

          Me Again,

          I am impressed. I did not expect that you have researched the subject. This is good because you have the background to educate us on this subject.

          I thought I did point out that Skokie dealt with the Nazis. I said that Skokie took them to court but lost. The Nazi group did have to obtain a license to march and they had to show that they had obtained insurance to cover the cost of something going wrong during the march. I don’t know if this was dictated by the court or was a matter of local ordinance. I am sure that this was amajor reason why they did not march, other than fearing for their lives.

          Seeing the restrictions that were put on the Nazis’ freedom of speech, couldn’t the city of Evanston require that Panhandlers be licensed and possibly be required to have insurance? The city does this with store front businesses, street ice cream vendors, and most other businesses. Cash is passing hands in all these cases. Theoretically, the IRS requires all these groups, including panhandlers, to keep a set of books and declare their income. Donations to panhandlers are not tax deductible unless the panhandler is a qualified charity.

          So, I am asking you, can Evanston require that panhandlers are licensed? I don’t know? This could certainly reduce the number of panhandlers that come to Evanston.

          I feel that most panhandlers bother nobody and are polite but there is some that practice bad behavior. I have noticed these in front of our local groceries and in the Sherman and Church Street areas.

  14. Banning it seems elitist and mean-spirited

    I agree, aggressive behavior by anyone should be regulated. But banning panhandling because some seem too "in your face" is unreasonable.

    So many of these comments make it seem like panhandlers are on some kind-of gravy train and don't want to lose their cushy gig and get a job. Most of these people are homeless and many are mentally ill. Holding jobs may well not be an option.

    If you think panhandling is so easy or so lucrative, why not try it for a day or two? Try sitting outside in all weathers trying to cadge a few coins from people who range from the disinterested to the actively hostile and see how you like it.

    I would love to find solutions that mean that people can get what they need and don't have to do something so degrading – but banning panhandling just seems elitist and mean-spirited.

    Evanston prides itself on being a compassionate community – let's find more carrots (literally?) and fewer sticks.

    1. What solutions do you feel

      What solutions do you feel would be helpful. I don't know much about what people's needs are, but I do feel some things might be helpful. I do not know of the exact availability of these things, but if they don't exist, maybe they should:

      Free, clean, and safe showering facilities and restrooms (not "customers-only" bathrooms)

      Shelter accessibility that is more aligned with what is needed. I think asking those who would use the shelters what would make them feel it was a better option would be good.

      Public transit cards for those who use outreach services if travel is a burden (which it probably is for some).

    2. Compassion?

      I wrote the earlier post about panhandlers coming into my restaurant demanding free food, but turning down the offer of one hour of work for $10 and a free meal.

      Let me also say that at the end of the night a few would sometimes come in to make change.  They had lots of coin and small bills and wanted to exchange for twenties.  Usually $40 range, but I have changed for benjamins.

      I also had another restaurant in the City and there was a crew that still to this very day occasionally "works" our streets in Evanston and I would see them split up and "work" by my other location. 

      One time driving back from the City into Evanston I saw that crew with their car parked at the end of LSD @ Sheridan, hood up blocking traffic while they solicited "help" for their "broken" vehicle. 

      The next time one came in I laughed, he smirked, but still wasn't interested in my offer of one hours work for 10 bucks and a free meal, just would I make change.  Anyone who gave coin to a crew like this isn't really being compassionate, they're being suckers.

      I know not all panhandlers are part of a working crew, that many people have issues and need help.  But there are lots of places to make donations that assist people and the street isn't one of them. 

      Banning panhandling would keep the crews out while driving those in real need to organizations that can provide better assistance.

  15. Just say no and move on

    I don't engage with the panhandlers, other than saying "sorry, no" and moving on.  I have never been chased or chastized for politely saying no to them. I do agree it is a part of the urban feel and it's not illegal unless it becomes aggressive and then you have to call the cops.

    What SHOULD be addressed isn't the panhandling but crime! Come on!

    1. Maybe you don’t appear vulnerable

      Maybe you don't appear vulnerable — child or children in tow, physical limitation, elderly, walking in the dark, back facing to the panhandler at an ATM, smaller in stature and/or size, frail, etc.  Maybe that's not you.

      My two bad experiences with panhandlers — both times I had a younger child in tow.  When I have been without a child on previous trips to downtown Evanston, a polite "no" was sufficient to be left alone.  Curious.

      Could it be that panhandlers prey on people who appear vulnerable because the panhandler knows  that the person is more likely to surender cash to be left alone? 

      Given that, maybe some selective, clever undercover work in Evanston commercial areas would result in frequent tickets to the aggressive panhandlers.  In the face of frequent tickets, they would either change their ways and stop being aggressive or panhandle in a different city.  I am fine with either of those results.

  16. Bad panhandler experiences

     I would like to share why I agree that there is an issue with panhandling and something needs to be done.

     I would like to preface these stories by saying that we have only lived in Evanston for the past 6 months, and right now we have far too many of these bad occurance. Even worse is that so many of them have happened with out of state guests and family that we were trying to show our new home to.

      We have been approached by the same woman several times within the downtown area, the first time we listened to her story of not having money to get home, politely declined helping and walked away no harm done.  The problems have arrived in that this same woman has now approached us 5 more times, each time spouting the same story of not having money to get home. The last two have taken it too far, she has approached us while we were trying to enjoy our lunch at the Celtic Knot at the outside tables, and most recently this past weekend when she got right up in our faces while we were trying to show my out-of-state Family our downtown.

      On another occasion on which we were attempting to show my out-of-state sister and brother our downtown we were approached while passing the 7-eleven by a different female panhandler.  My brother politely declined to help and we continued on without stopping.  This particular lady then proceeded to follow us while using very harsh language and slurs thrown our way.  Let me tell you how absolutely embarassed I was after we sped up and she finally turned away.  I can only image what an impression that left on my family of our new home.

      Lastly I would like to point out how uncomfortable my wife and I are every single time we shop at the Jewel Osco on Chicago ave.  This building has one of the most cramped, hallway life entrances, of any building in Evanston and due to the constant presence of panhandlers it has become our weekly gauntlet.  Examples of situation we have experienced in the last 6 months at the one location alone:

    Male telling shopper that she has nice feet

    two males fighting with each other over the right to this begging spot

    overpowering smell of urine accompanying a puddle

    overpowering smell of vomit

    Male having a conversation with employees of Jewel Smoking cigarettes

      These are just a few examples of the unpleasant situations panhandlers have put us in. I for one would trumpet any measure that would help us and other Evanstonians enjoy downtown and daily Evanston life free of harassement.

    1. Panhandlers known to police and business owners?

      "…We have been approached by the same woman several times within the downtown area, the first time we listened to her story of not having money to get home,…"

      ==============

      I think many who shop downtown recognize who this person is ?  Are business owners not reporting these people to the police ?  If it is the same person I see in B-K and following people on the sidewalk around B-K, can't [alllowed by law] the police pick this and the others up and bring them to the store owners to identify and then take action—i.e. fines, trespass warrant, etc. ? 

      I suspect the police know who these people are already.

  17. I don’t want to see a ban

    I don't want to see a ban on panhandling, but I would very much like to see more done to address the issue so people who panhandle have other options.

  18. Streetwise

    One thing not mentioned is people selling Streetwise magazine for $ 2.

    This is another form of panhandling because the paper is worthless. There is an ocassional article worth reading but for the most part its empty of intelligent content.

    I mention this not to be critical of the people selling the paper but to be critical of the paper itself. Streetwise could be a valuable vehicle and money earner for many more lower income people if it had better articles.

    So one way to help the street people / panhandlers out would be for the writers amongst Evanston's population to donate stories worth reading. Short stories about the lives of many of the panhandlers could be interesting . otherwise I've come to believe that giving money to panhandlers is fine, a good deed.

    So on ocassion i do just that. The problem is that by doing so, in front of the Jewel, at Starbucks, wherever, I know i am encouraging them to continue to stay fixed to that spot annoying those others who do mind strangers asking them for money . Thus I do not give money to the guy living in front of Whole Foods or any of the other men in front of Jewel. This of course makes the whole thing complicated and so I've been avoiding Jewel on Chicago Avenue for years!

    1. Evanston Review

      The same thing can be said about the Evanston Review. It is hardly worth the effort that it takes to remove it from the mail box before throwing in the recycle bin. EN is a much superior source for news and lively opinion.

  19. Programs for panhandlers?

    All these comments about getting programs in place… What about the people at Greenwood Care facility who already have a place, but panhandle just because?  How about the 1 very friendly black man (who annoyingly compliments everyone) with dreadlocks who lives in the apartment complex off Dempster and Sheridan? Every see his nice new bike he rides? He has a roof over his head and i'm pretty sure the man eats very well.

    You think offering programs to either of these people will help?

    Some people are lazy or have nothing better to do. This is where a ban helps.

  20. Another unenforceable law

    Simple answer is walk by and don't give. At some point if no one gives most will stop. Perhaps they law should be to ban giving to panhandlers.

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