New changes to panhandling laws pass through City Council - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

New changes to panhandling laws pass through City Council

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The city of Sioux Falls is cracking down on panhandlers. Tuesday night, the council passed an ordinance 7-1 further restricting people to ask for money.

The new law won't allow people to solicit in public. Private property is OK with permission required. It will be illegal to solicit aggressively by following or harassing. Finally, it will be illegal to ask for money from cars in traffic.

While it's not a big problem in Sioux Falls, yet, it was a request by Sioux Falls Police in an effort to be proactive.

HEre are some numbers they provided:

In 2010, officers responded to 180 calls about the issue.

In 2011, 190 calls.

So far this year, officers have had 165 calls.

Chief Doug Barthel said Sioux Falls has the potential to hit well over 200 incident reports, this year, with the trend on the rise.

Sioux Falls leaders are confident a new ban on panhandling will stop a growing problem. But some disagree, Bernadette Nelson is one of them.

"There's a lot of people getting homes foreclosed, ending up in trailers, and living out of vehicles and need a way to find a job so banning panhandling is just making it harder for people traveling and don't know where they can get help," Bernadette Nelson said.

We found Bernadette near Louise Avenue and 41st STreet just as she was asked to leave private property. She admits she's trying to feed her family and find a job, but it's not as easy as everyone thinks.

"A lot of people will not hire the homeless people due to the fact that you can't do laundry and can't take showers. Personal hygiene are what employers look for," Nelson said.

"It's not that easy. People don't understand, all they say is 'get a job'. I'm trying to, you know? Thank God I only get those once or twice a day," Nelson said.

People attending the city council meeting questioned the issue saying it's violating freedom of speech. Sioux Falls Police say the new ban is strictly to promote safety, limit the growing trend and keep accidents from happening.

Changes to the new law will take effect beginning in November.

People who work with the homeless say they'd rather see everyone's dollars going to agencies that support the homeless and help them find jobs in Sioux Falls rather than someone you don't know.

Those agencies in Sioux Falls include: The St. Francis House, Union Gospel Mission, The Banquet, Good Shepard.

Below is a link to the Minnehaha County Homeless Advisory Board for more information:

http://www.minnehahacounty.org/hab/hab.aspx

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