Getting A Handle On Panhandling

<p>Homeless man</p>

Homeless man

For months, panhandling has been the subject of complaints for many residents -- people say they are getting tired of seeing the same people working different intersections in the city, asking for money.

Vicki has been on the streets for five months, and even she complains about other panhandlers.

"Somebody has got to watch them, because there's bound to be an argument, there's bound to be public intoxication and stuff like that," said Vicki.

The city council is now being asked to move forward with two proposed plans.

The first, would ask for new regulations and enforcement at the city's 15 busiest intersections -- people would no longer be allowed to receive items or donations near these corners, and anyone found aggressively begging could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The second plan is an educational campaign to discourage panhandling.

That includes marketing campaigns asking people to "Be part of the solution."

Instead of giving money to panhandlers, people are encouraged to insert change into giving meters, which would be dispersed to local charities.

Those meters would be placed in front of buildings like City Hall.

They're not meant to raise a significant amount of money, but meant to remind people to donate that money to alternate causes.

"If you're concerned about the homeless problem that we have here in Yakima, give to the agencies directly," said Strategic Project Manager Joan Davenport, "That's what we're hoping to accomplish with the giving meters; is to provide a public opportunity, and as a reminder."

The city hopes the plans, if passed, would ultimately drive out panhandlers, and keep those abusing that money for addictions, off the streets.

However, that spells bad news for people like Vicki.

"I can understand that, but not everybody is a drug addict, or mentally ill, or an alcoholic," said Vicki, "Some people are just really down on their luck."

The Yakima City Council will be meeting to discuss the two proposals at 6 inside Yakima City Hall.