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Community weighs in on proposed panhandling law

Dryden says the ordinance would only hurt the homeless, pushing them further in a class deemed "lesser than".

Posted: Apr 15, 2019 7:59 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The Eugene City Council is set to vote on an ordinance that would make it illegal to transfer anything from your vehicle to a pedestrian.

The law would apply to both drivers and passengers, and the only exception is if the vehicle is parked legally.

Damon Sims, who used to panhandle, said the law won't fix anything.

"I don't think panhandling should be illegal," he said. "I think certain aspects of it should be, but it doesn't mean that they're any less of a person for doing that and a closed mouth doesn't get fed. To each their own."

The city of Springfield already has a similar law, and the Eugene ordinance would mirror that one in what the city calls an attempt at "keeping people safe in the roadways or medians."

Jeremy Dryden has been on the streets for years. He said a law banning panhandling will not keep people off the streets. He knows because he's been there.

"I've been that person. I've been on the street. I didn't get talked to. People don't look at you, so then you have to come up with other ways to get people to look at you. Instead of panhandling, you tell people can you spare a smile," Dryden said.

Felicity Helberg also has close ties with the homeless population in Eugene, but she said restricting panhandling is a good thing because she believes it would encourage people on the streets to get the help she said they need.

"I think it would affect some of my friends who are on the streets, but I also think it would have a bigger outcome in the end for shelters to get people to come there instead of just sleeping under bridges and asking for money."

The ordinance will be voted on at the city council on Monday night at 7:30.

We will have the outcome of that vote on KEZI 9 News at 11. 

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