Worcester’s crackdown on what city officials call "aggressive" panhandling has resulted in four arrests this month.
The city passed an ordinance in January banning panhandling while standing in traffic or on medians, but didn't immediately enforce it in the hopes that education and publicity would lead to voluntary compliance, which Worcester city councilor Konstantina Lukes says has worked, to an extent.
“A lot of my constituents have seen a visible decrease on the highways and traffic islands but it’s also been balanced off, and not equally, by the shifting of panhandlers to other locations to do their begging,” Lukes said.
The ban also applies to civic organizations like Little League teams and veterans’ organizations, and now both civic groups and the homeless are competing with one another at supermarkets and shopping plazas.
“It’s been an emotional issue because the end result is those tag days are also under the same scrutiny and under the same enforcement that pan-handling is,” Lukes said. “So there have been attempts to come up with alternate soliciting for these groups.”
Boston passed its own ordinance banning aggressive panhandling in February, but no arrests have been made, according to the Boston Police Department.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.