By Rosalie Tirella
… The city manager should follow through with the panhandler/homeless outreach program the city was touting a while back.
Last night, the Worcester City Council voted to make panhandling in Worcester illegal (for the most part). Police officers can be called to shoo away pretty much any person asking for money and issue them a $50 fine. The panhandler won’t go to jail; he/she may have to do community service. Good luck with that one, folks!
Instead of sucking up the valuable time of our city cops, cops who can be put to better use WALKING our inner-city neighborhoods, why not just hire one or two homeless out-reach workers? Kids or adults with some background in human services. People who can go to the panhandlers and tell them where they can go for food, shelter, a hot meal, advocacy etc. Hopefully, that person will even be able to give the panhandler “a lift” to the right social service agency/church, etc.
This new panhandler policy makes the city severe, unforgiving AND it doesn’t eradicate the root problems of homelessness/mental illness and poverty that panhandling is a symptom of.
The city council knows this, but it’s much easier to sweep stuff (and people) under the rug.