The City of St. Augustine is calling on the public to help with the issue of panhandling by documenting it.
According to officials, an important part of the city’s response to panhandling activity is knowing when and where it’s happening. Panhandling often involves transients asking tourists and others downtown for money.
An online form has been created for residents to report panhandling. They can tell their personal accounts and attach photos.
“Any interaction, whether positive or negative, is helpful to the city in building a record that documents the effect panhandlers have on the community,” reads an email from the city to WJCT News.
The city says it will need this record to establish need for any new ordinances.
Earlier this month, St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver said panhandling is a growing problem in the city’s downtown. The city is asking a constitutional lawyer to craft an ordinance addressing the activity.
The city has begun an education campaign encouraging people to donate to homeless non-profits instead of panhandlers.
Pamphlets and a visitor center’s program will also strive to explain to out-of-towners the difference between homelessness and panhandlers.
The City of St. Augustine has posted a Q & A with City Manager John Regan and Police Chief Barry Fox regarding panhandling and homelessness. You can read it on the city’s website.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.