Enfield officials discuss cracking down on panhandling - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Enfield officials discuss cracking down on panhandling

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Homeless man panhandles for money in Enfield. (WFSB) Homeless man panhandles for money in Enfield. (WFSB)
ENFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

Town officials said panhandling is becoming a more common sight in Enfield and residents said it’s becoming an issue.

“People have been approached by individuals trying to get money for different purposes and they won't leave them alone,” Enfield Town Manager Matthew Coppler said.

On Monday night, the Enfield Town Council held a public meeting about a proposed law that would ban what Coppler calls aggressive panhandling.

“The resolution that is being proposed tries to make sure that people feel safe in those environments and they're not being harassed,” Coppler said.

The law would prevent panhandlers from intimidating members of the public, misrepresenting themselves, and even asking for many to stay within 50 feet of any public road.

“I don't understand what the problem is, I really don't understand what the problem is,” Dan Fuller, of Enfield, said.

Fuller said he is homeless and panhandles in Enfield. He added the proposal is overly broad and unfair.

“We're not hurting anybody, it's not like I'm thieving. I'm just trying to make a couple dollars so I can eat,” Fuller said.

But Coppler said panhandlers have been offered help to get off the street and the issue is public safety.

“I think it's something the council wants to address before it becomes a catastrophic issue,” Coppler said. “Or someone gets injured or something like that.”

Fuller said he just hopes the town council takes into effect what the law would mean for people like him.

“I would probably starve to death,” if he couldn't hold his sign, he said.

Michelle Reed, who is trying to raise two children just steps away from where panhandlers like Fuller stand, said it is a threat to her family.

"We can see these actions going on from our backyard," Reed said. "It's uncomfortable having the kids out there playing."

She said the panhandlers haven't been aggressive but are threatening her property value.

"I wouldn't buy my house now if it was for sale and I saw it from my front door," she said.

The proposal calls for a $90 fine for illegally panhandling. Monday’s meeting was just a public hearing, but the proposal could become law by next month. 

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