You Are Paying for Panhandlers

Posted By: Abdul · 12/11/2013 1:16:00 PM

For months I have been watching the city of Indianapolis try to deal with its panhandling problems. 

Earlier this year an ordinance introduced by City-County Councilor Jeff Miller would have created a "No Solicitation Zone" that prohibits panhandling and passive solicitation (holding of signs, shaking of change cups) within the mile square (bordered by North, South, East and West streets) and around Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field.  That ran into roadblocks. 

The most recent proposal would have banned panhandling within 50 feet of parking meters, but that got sent back to committee out of concern for “street performers”. 

I don’t know what the problem is and why the Indy City-County Council can’t get its act together.  The facts are pretty simple, panhandlers are costing you money!  Even if you don’t give, they are reaching into your pockets.

 According to the folks in the convention business, Indianapolis lost ten meetings in the past two years which cost us nearly $6.3 million in visitor spending. And what was the key factor in those decisions? Panhandling. And if that isn't enough for you, I'm also told that there are currently six active proposals worth nearly $20 million in spending that are at risk because the folks who make the decision to come to Indianapolis are concerned about the panhandling. If you're still not convinced, here's some more evidence for you: Convention organizers say nine previously booked groups worth $52.9 million in visitor spending may not come back in the future, and in some cases, may cancel existing meetings due to panhandling concerns.

So because of panhandlers, Indianapolis could lose up to $80 million in visitor spending and convention business. That $80 million generates a lot of tax revenue which helps pay for police, fire and infrastructure so you don't have to.

There are constitutional ways to crack down on panhandling.  Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale and San Antonio have all managed to do it.

There isn't anyone with common sense and 20/20 vision who can't see that panhandling is not only a problem, but it's also costing Indianapolis millions of dollars. If we can't round them up and ship them off, at least we can stop subsidizing them.