Citizens concerned over panhandling ordinance

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Several advocates for the Homeless Community say they didn't get the chance to voice their concerns at Tuesday's city council meeting on the ordinances aimed at curbing panhandling.

"Not all of us are panhandlers or alcoholics or drug addicts. Some of us are trying to work our way out," says Allan Stoker.

Stoker says he and others were disappointed when they showed up to city hall Tuesday and didn't get to speak out against the new ordinances.

One ordinance aims to protect the health, safety and general welfare of both drivers and pedestrians, by not allowing people to exchange things in the roadway.

The other gives jail time and or fines for aggressive panhandling.

"We didn't know anything about the issue until after it had already gone through the first time, and they had already essentially passed it and enacted it."

While Stoker thinks a lot of panhandlers don't need the money...he also feels ordinances will further hurt the homeless who need money and turn to panhandling.

"A lot of it can be misinterpreted and used against people who are already in a bad situation. And it just makes the hole that they're trying to crawl out of a lot deeper."

One advocate for the homeless says the ordinance unfairly punishes people who want to give to those in need.

"I can understand trying to control the panhandlers; They do become a bit of a problem from time to time. But I think there's a better way to do it. If you address the underlying cause, instead of the symptom, it's usually better," says Christopher Parisho.

The Wichita Police Department's homeless outreach team weighed in on the issue- saying a lot of the panhandlers are not as bad off as they may appear.