How to deal with panhandlers as warm weather approaches

How to deal with panhandlers as warm weather approaches

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While it may seem like a nuisance to you, homeless advocacy organizations, like Knox Area Rescue Ministries or KARM, consider panhandling a problem as well. While it may seem like a nuisance to you, homeless advocacy organizations, like Knox Area Rescue Ministries or KARM, consider panhandling a problem as well.
KARM wanting you to remember that your handout to give someone a hand up, just makes it easier for them to stay on the streets. KARM wanting you to remember that your handout to give someone a hand up, just makes it easier for them to stay on the streets.
"Giving someone cash is really just a band-aid for a very serious problem," said Angie Sledge with KARM. "Giving someone cash is really just a band-aid for a very serious problem," said Angie Sledge with KARM.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - How do you deal with someone asking for your spare change? With longer and warmer days in the horizon, you'll most likely see someone panhandling if you spend any time in downtown Knoxville.

We looked into the rules protecting you and how to handle these kinds of situations. It's a misconception that everyone asking for your spare change is homeless. In fact, homeless advocates say panhandlers are just scam artists making quick cash off your generosity.

The Old City, Market Square, or the strip, chances are you've heard the same question over and over.

"For money to get somewhere, for food, or for money in general," said Knoxville resident Rebekah Myers.

And a different picture is painted every time. "A woman asked me to buy her pants because she couldn't make it to the bathroom in time," added Myers.

"One guy was asking for him and his wife to help get a room to stay in," said UT student Luke Dyson.

While it may seem like a nuisance to you, homeless advocacy organizations, like Knox Area Rescue Ministries or KARM, consider panhandling a problem as well.

"Giving someone cash is really just a band-aid for a very serious problem," said Angie Sledge with KARM.

In fact, the city has an ordinance to hinder panhandling where it's illegal to ask for money after sunset, asking more than once, using abusive language, being aggressive, and the list goes on and on.

"Well there's always the question of what are they going to do with it. My response is usually what do you need it for," said Sevierville resident David Furman.

So what should you do the next time you're approached?

"First off smile, look them in the eye, but be very firm 'I will not give you cash.' It's always nice to say 'If you're really hungry, walk on over to that restaurant and I'll go buy you a sandwich.' Sit down with them and have a conversation," added Sledge.

KARM wanting you to remember that your handout to give someone a hand up, just makes it easier for them to stay on the streets.

"You want to help them out but it's kind of hard," said Dyson.

Knoxville Police Department says you can always call to report people violating the panhandling ordinance at (865) 215-4010.

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