Tampa City Council weighs options on what more to do about panhandling

05/02/13 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Thursday Tampa City Council considered further crackdowns on panhandling.

The discussion was still going on when we went to air.

During public comment in the morning nine people asked council to enact an ordinance putting more limits on when and where people can ask for handouts. Shawn Robinson, president of Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus, says panhandlers harass students and faculty.

However, two people opposed additional constraints on panhandling. Jon Dengler works in Ybor City and thinks banning panhandling isn’t the solution for what he calls “our neighbors in need.”

"I went to the State of the City address and was listening to our very attractive mayor and something in my heart just leaped inside of me when he said that, 'I don't want to be mayor of a city that demonizes people based on the color of their skin or who they love or...' and I was overjoyed to hear and then at the same time something in me, I look around at our city and I ask like, 'Well what if they're broke? Black and broke, gay and broke, white and broke, Hispanic and broke, like then we do. We do tend toward something like a demonization - a dehumanization - with our legislation and the thing is, these are citizens! These are neighbors and these are friends of ours.The mayor would also say, and you guys are familiar with this, 'I don't want to see my daughters, I don't want to lose my daughters, to that city. I don't want to lose my daughters to that city.' and none of us do. And yet, I wonder if what if those daughters ended up on the street. What if those daughters end up broke, would he still want them in the city?"

Tampa City Council member Yvonne Capin said she wants to hear solutions from the mayor for getting people out of the city’s parks and into shelters or other services.

The new CEO of the Homeless Coalition, Maria Barcus, revealed that the results of their recent homeless recount will be released soon. She said the size of the homeless population is considerably smaller than it was two years ago.

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