Should Homeless Beg at Your Car?

Every day I try to find a detour around the intersection of 9th Street South and 22nd Avenue. No, I’m not trying to avoid a red light (although I drive a stick, so if I can swing it, that’s a nice bonus, too); I’m trying to avoid the guy who comes to my car and begs.

It didn’t start out as begging. At first he would come to my car and offer a flyer for local happenings. But then he started asking for a donation for his offerings. Since I never took the stuff AND it’s free at the counter of any local convenience store, I’m pretty sure he’s just asking for a handout.

Before anyone starts quoting cheesy eighties songs I’d like to stress that I am doing my best to keep my head above water here… you know, just keep swimming and all that happy crap (actually, it is). I’m not refusing money while I drive by in a Beamer; if I give this guy money it means I don’t have money for food or pit bull attack vet bills. Seriously.

So here’s my question… is this legal? I know St. Pete has an ordinance against what they call “aggressive” panhandling. Is this what they consider aggressive?

Should this guy be allowed to beg at my car window while I’m stopped at a red light? I’m really curious; sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten so jaded that I make big deals out of little deals.

I’d like to add that this guy seems like a reasonably sentient being and it seems that anyone who has the stamina to stand on a street corner and converse with passersby and drivers could easily hold some sort of job. He’s not ill groomed- better than me on many a day- and I don’t understand why he needs to beg when the St. Pete Times has basically legalized begging with their street corner salespeople. Yes, I know there are dozens of reasons people beg for money, but this guy doesn’t seem to fit the bill of someone who cannot hold a job; rather, he seems like someone who is choosing not to.


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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.

2 thoughts on “Should Homeless Beg at Your Car?”

  1. Too many of us give cash to those with their hand out. That encourages more panhandling. I used to give before I learned that they most often use it to buy drugs or alcohol. I was not helping them, only keeping them from facing the need to get cleaned up or die at a young age.

    It is hard for the police to chase after hundreds of homeless. They have so much else to do and too few officers. The agencies that bring them in to the neighborhood can be more responsive to us if grant funding required them to have neighborhood support.

    Years ago the A.S.A.P. shelter in our neighborhood was well run and respected the neighborhood. Jerry Styles and Camile managed the shelter and lived here in the neighborhood. They required those who received service to respect the neighbors and this included no begging.

    Now we see the Salvation Army allow camping on 4th Street and bringing drug addicts to the neighborhood with no concern for the harm they cause.

    Has anyone in the media asked these agencies if they have any rules for the people they serve? Perhaps a code of conduct?

    Other communities encourage concerned people to buy vouchers for food or other essentials. Give this to the homeless instead of cash.

  2. I had a scary encounter on the off ramp at 22nd Ave South the other day with what is definitely aggressive panhandling- the guy blocked my car and was in my face at the window in the street. I was so uncomfortable I had to blow the stop sign and swerve around him because I thought he might be armed and no one else was around. I think you can call it in if they are causing a traffic hazard. I would. And if you’re nicer than me, maybe you can make a flier of local assistance programs and offer it to him in exchange for his flier 🙂

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