Jackson City Council Seeks Solution For Panhandlers Besides Fines After Vote
We have all probably encountered the situation before where you are walking around in the city when someone approaches you asking for money. Sometimes you give that person a few bucks and others you're in a hurry, you don't carry cash or you are just annoyed to even be asked.
Whatever your mood may be in that moment, it impacts that other person's day probably a lot more than it did yours.
However, despite how we feel about the situation, the thing is that when occurrences like this become so frequent people would rather not shop at nearby businesses than be put in that often awkward position, that can become a problem too...and that's what's going on in Jackson.
Panhandling in Jackson
Just the other night my boyfriend's mom was talking about how panhandlers have been hanging out around a family member's office in Downtown Jackson and other business owners have been complaining that it is affecting the flow of customers.
She had mentioned the city council was looking to step in and figure out a solution; however, we also talked about how that was not an easy task.
A fine for panhandling was proposed...but if we think about it for more than a few seconds, we realize how counterproductive that is, right?
If someone, no matter their situation, is going around asking strangers for money, why would you fine them for even more money...that they don't have?
Anyways, the city council held a meeting on the matter recently and it went, well, it went.
Proposed Solutions For Panhandlers
According to FOX 47 News, there was actually an ordinance proposed that, among other things, featured prohibiting solicitation "within 15 feet of a bank, ATM, an entrance or exit of a public or private building without the consent of the owner, soliciting on public transportation or from a person who is in any vehicle on a street in such a way that it would impede traffic..."
FOX 47 also reported it was proposed violators would be fined $100.
Arguments on Both Sides of the Issue
I like to believe that most people have a conscience and don't get joy out of seeing fellow human beings struggle. We can all agree on that right? I sure hope so.
That's where it becomes challenging because as much as we don't like to see people in our communities go through a hard time, when those people are causing other people like business owners to have a hard time as well, that's where it gets sticky.
WILX News 10 reported on the Jackson City Council meeting that took place where both sides were able to voice their concerns.
Business owners like Eric Saxton mentioned having to hire security, how that in itself is expensive and how panhandling "makes people feel uncomfortable."
However, Kevin Hardman, a currently unhoused man living in Jackson, says he has asked people for help, though he would rather work. According to FOX 47, Hardman also explained how the ordinance seems like "kicking people who are already down."
Where To Go From Here?
According to WILX, city council did vote down the proposed ordinance but do plan on continuing conversations and coming up with ideas for a solution that works for everyone.
"Mayor Derek Dobies along with several council members and representatives from the Racial Equity Commission said in the meeting the ordinance would have been unconstitutional," FOX 47 reports. "And would have lead to jail time for homeless people as they wouldn’t be able to pay the fine."
FOX 47 also shares already existing part(s) of Jackson’s municipal code that cites ordinances on disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and more.