Winston-Salem Looks At Ways To Address Downtown Panhandling Complaints

Winston-Salem Looks At Ways To Address Downtown Panhandling Complaints

3:55pm Jul 25, 2019
Some business leaders and residents say they want more police patrols in downtown Winston-Salem to help prevent harassment from "aggressive panhandlers." KERI BROWN/WFDD

Some local residents and business leaders are concerned about an increase in what they describe as “aggressive panhandling” in downtown Winston-Salem. They want city officials to address the issue.

People who ask for money in public places in Winston-Salem are required to have a permit and have to follow certain rules. For example, they have to stay out of highway medians and can’t solicit someone within 100 feet of a bank or ATM.

But several downtown businesses and stakeholders say some of the panhandlers are too aggressive.

Jason Thiel is president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. He says the issue isn’t about people being homeless.

“What we’re experiencing is something quite different," he says. "We are experiencing people that just don’t want to take no for an answer, will follow you down the street, seem to pop up out of nowhere, and it’s become very frustrating for people.”

Thiel says he wants to see more enforcement of the permit ordinance and other safety measures.

City Manager Lee Garrity says he is working on a plan with police to address the complaints. He says he’ll have more information on what that will look like sometime next week.

You can follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news 

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