Spring is lovely in Syracuse. It seems that every year there are more residents, families, dogs, and employees exploring what our downtown has to offer. Thriving downtown’s need this activity and density to be successful. The mix of residents, employees and visitors makes for the vibrant streets that we promote so heavily at SYRUP. A lunchtime stroll through the amazing architecture and unique shops is a nice reprieve from the busy office place until… “Excuse me miss, can you spare some change”.
Its is a question every city dweller will be posed at some point, and some would say a reality of city life. On a brief walk today I was asked for money three times in one block. This type of harassment is detrimental to the growth of our city. When a walk becomes unwelcoming, it hurts our businesses, our economics and our qualify of life.
Yes, people have rights and I get that it is a way of making a living for some who have challenges in the workplace or disabilities that prevent making adequate wages. The aggressive panhandling laws do limit how panhandlers can approach you and how pushy they can be, but that does not change that feeling of uneasiness that takes over you when you are asked time and time again for spare change.
Because it is not illegal to panhandle, as long as it is done so without aggression or near ATM machines, the best course of action is to simply ignore those who ask for money. This seems harsh and against our human nature, but it is the only real way to end the barrage of begging on our main streets.
There are many options for food and shelter available to those who may need help in the downtown region. Sending your dollars or loose change to organizations such as the Rescue Mission or the Samaritan Center not only helps those organizations help more people, but they also offer programs to help change the course of people’s lives. These amazing organizations offer everything from meals to shelter, job searching and counseling services to help people get back on their feet.
So, the next time someone asks you for money, kindly direct them to a local charitable organization or simply ignore their request. Saving your money for an organization that fights daily to improve lives is the way to create real change.
What do you think about the panhandling epidemic downtown?