Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Panhandlers on the move to Tampa after new St. Petersburg law

Panhandlers drifting from St. Petersburg could mean more competition and less money for locals like Charles, 49.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Panhandlers drifting from St. Petersburg could mean more competition and less money for locals like Charles, 49.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Correction notice appended below.

TAMPA — Roger Morgan is new in town.

So, under a floppy, green hat and 95-degree heat, he can be seen standing at Kennedy and West Shore boulevards, greeting motorists with the sign he used only days ago in St. Petersburg.

"Will take any work. Anything helps. God bless all — Roger."

Morgan, 49, is among the panhandlers who have moved since St. Petersburg enacted a panhandling ordinance June 13. Worried about police scrutiny and the arrests of about 25 people under the ordinance, they've crossed the bridge and are setting up shop in Tampa.

"What are we supposed to do?" asked Morgan, cigarette between his lips, eyes squinting in the sun.

He has plenty of company. By 2 p.m. Thursday, four other people were "flagging a sign" at the same intersection.

Police and local homeless commissions don't track panhandler numbers. But people on the street say the influx is clear.

Craig Pedersen, 47, a volunteer at Trinity Cafe, which serves lunch to about 200 homeless people a day, said he's seeing more people on street corners.

"I didn't know about the panhandling ordinance until someone said it's getting rough out there," he said. "There are certain streets that are real busy."

On the other side of Tampa Bay, Sarah Snyder, executive director of Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, has noticed a drop in panhandlers in downtown St. Petersburg.

"Homelessness is a regional issue," she said. "It's not just the city of St. Petersburg. What one area does will impact the others."

In Tampa, which requires panhandlers to wear bright safety vests, more panhandlers means more people waving brown cardboard signs, selling water or hawking newspapers between commutes.

But for Pat Russell, 63, and others who depend on panhandling for income, it means competition, and less money.

"This is the hardest I've ever had it," said Russell, a Tampa native. "It's getting worse and worse."

Trinity Cafe volunteer Lorraine Franza, 69, said she talked to three people in late June who said they came over because of law enforcement in Pinellas.

"They say, 'We're just going to stay over on this part of the bay,' " she said.

Homeless advocates say it's hard to predict whether an increase in panhandlers will bring a proportionate increase in homeless people.

It's unusual to see any movement in the homeless population between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties because travel cost is prohibitive, said Lesa Weikel, a community relations manager at the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County.

But the threat of arrest has some panhandlers moving.

Said Snyder, of the Pinellas homeless coalition: "People will do what they have to do to stay alive."

CORRECTION: The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County was misidentified in earlier versions of this story appearing in print and online.

Panhandlers on the move to Tampa after new St. Petersburg law 07/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 26, 2010 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.