Fresno City Council looking to curb panhandling by discouraging handouts

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Signs that discourage giving money to panhandlers will soon appear around Fresno.    

The “Help Us, Help Fresno” program got the green light from council members Thursday. 

Some private businesses have already had signs posted. Supporters said they’re meant to discourage giving directly to panhandlers and encourage other options.

“I tell you right now if people stopped giving money to panhandlers, they wouldn’t pan handle,” Garry Bredefeld the councilmember behind the ordinance said. 

The plan failed in April with a 3-3 vote,  but passed with the addition of Councilmember Mike Karbassi in a 4-3 vote. 

“Most panhandlers are drug addicted, they’re alcoholic or they’re scammers, and they’re preying on the generosity of our citizens,” Bredefeld said. 

But Desiree Martinez the founder of We Are Not Invisible said the signs won’t sway anyone. “They’re still going to give, because I believe Fresno is so loving and those people are still going to give the way they do every single day,” she said.

The plan allows anit-panhandling signs throughout the city at the discretion of councilmembers and businesses.    

The funding for the signs will come out of the discretionary funds available to each district, and business can purchase their own. 

The signs have already been a staple at River Park Shopping Center. J.C. Gurell said he panhandles there everyday and he feels the effects of the signs. 

“In order to eat I have to depend on this and now that people are not giving it like they were, it’s just really tough,” he said. 

Instead of cash the signs encourage finding a solution by giving to a local charity.

Jennifer Large owner of Beautiwood Unfinished Furniture said she supports the ordinance and already has a sign on the way. 

“I want to see the public help the public, but in the correct manner. There’s just a different way to go about it instead of handing that money out of the window,” she said. 

Large also said she’s happy the signs include a help line number for anyone on the streets.

But Martinez said it’s not enough. “Put more numbers, multiple agencies on there, especially for the youth that are out there right now,” she said.

Elected leaders of each district can now decide if and when the signs go up. 

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