Reporting Christina Hager
WORCESTER (CBS) – Some play music, some wash your car windows, and some hold up signs proclaiming hard luck stories. But Worcester’s mayor says he’s had enough of the aggressive panhandlers at major intersections.
“I’ve just seen it grow. Almost every square here in the City of Worcester, we’re seeing panhandlers,” says Mayor Joseph Petty. He’s asking the City Council to consider new ways to limit panhandling, and empower police to enforce laws prohibiting them from touching vehicles and interfering with traffic. “I just don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” says Petty.
“I don’t know what else to do,” says Richard Curren, who told us he made 12 dollars in the three hours he’d been panhandling before we met him. He says he was injured when he fell off some scaffolding, and needs the money to feed his wife and two sons.
Robert Mele holds a sign that says, “Homeless, no income.” He tells us, “I’d much rather be working than sitting on this corner with a sign. It’s embarrassing. It’s degrading, but I’ve got to live.”
They are worried the mayor’s efforts will take away their last shot option for survival, but residents in the neighborhoods where they beg for money disagree. “If you’re healthy enough to stand on that corner for 10 hours a day, you can work 8 hours a day…I don’t buy it,” says one neighbor. He and others complain that pan handlers litter, harass, and create a general nuisance.
The Mayor’s plan would also address organizations and youth groups that collect money on streets. They are required to have permits, but the mayor wants to make sure they keep a safe distance from traffic.