The Nashville City Paper’s editorial column takes a strong stand today in the panhandling debate. (I would link to the story, but can’t find anything that doesn’t require you to open their new ActivePaper site – which is a huge pain, by the way). Anyway, the City Paper board seems to largely agree with some of the sentiments shared on this site over the last few days, namely that:
To end the giving to panhandlers is the correct first step. Delivering help and a way out of the lifestyle to those who want it must then happen next.
If we want to truly end the pandhandling problem downtown, we have to understand the root causes and work to address them as well. Stopping the flow of cash to those begging for it must be the first step, but it can’t be the only step. Telling people to simply not give cash to panhandlers is nothing more than a stopgap solution. That said, we must also all be in agreement that something must be done. As the editorial says:
Panhandling downtown has reached an unacceptable level and must be curtailed. . . No one – tourists or locals – wants to frequent any area of commerce if it is associated with uncomfortable confrontation. People do not take their families out to eat, shop and see attractions in places they know in advance will be unpleasant.
Perhaps we can put in place a true coalition – business leaders, homeless rights advocates, downtown dwellers – and actually make some progress on this issue.