Columbus City Council holds meeting on panhandling policy

Columbus City Council held a hearing Wednesday night to seek feedback on the city’s panhandling policy. (WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Columbus City Council held a hearing Wednesday night to seek feedback on the city’s panhandling policy.

Last year, Columbus Police were instructed by the Columbus City Attorney’s Office not to enforce panhandling because similar laws in other cities were challenged in federal courts. The courts ruled panhandling as free speech. At the time, city officials said they didn’t want to risk a legal challenge.

On Wednesday night, a public safety committee hearing sought feedback from experts in public safety, care providers and the community.

"What can help those individuals that need help and what's going to reflect our city and our values,” explained Columbus City Councilmember Michael Stinziano.

Chris, a panhandler near the State Route 315 off-ramp on Dublin Road, said donations vary from day-to-day.

"You could walk away with $30, $50 bucks within 10 minutes. Some days you're standing out there for two three hours and you don't even make $10."

Instead of donating money to Chris, driver Nina Rehner donated food, a blanket and other items.

"Sometimes just being a little bit nice to somebody and giving them one thing can kind of spark something,” said Rehner.

Executive directors with Maryhaven and Community Shelter Board urge the public not to give money to the homeless. Each organization helps the homeless. They ask people donate to Community Shelter Board, and Maryhaven.

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