September 8, 2010

Akron Ohio: Growing panhandler list includes sex offenders, felons

9-8-2010 Ohio:

AKRON -- It's tough to drive through Akron, especially near the main streets and highways, and not see someone asking for money. Often times, there's quite a few people panhandling.

"On a good day, I make about $33," said Mark Frederick, a 48-year-old homeless man who admits he's been panhandling in Akron eight hours per day for the last two years.

Frederick usually finds a good spot near the State Route 8 exits by the University of Akron, but on Wednesday, he found a spot to rest under a tree because all four corners were occupied with other panhandlers.

Akron began registering panhandlers and issuing photo identification cards in 2007. The list has grown to more than 250 registered panhandlers, including 19 women and some teenagers too.

The rules are quite loose to receive an ID card. Criminal convictions are ok, including sex offenses and violent crimes, as long as the person has never been convicted of a panhandling crime.

Frederick, a former painter, said he can't find work because of prior felony convictions, but he's pleased that Akron offers him the opportunity to be honest about his need to panhandle.

Police receive about one call per day with a complaint about an aggressive panhandler or a panhandler in traffic.

"We are getting some road rage calls where people are stopped trying to give the donation of food or money, and they're holding up traffic when the light turns green," said Lt. Rick Edwards, Akron Police. "So we're getting a lot of people beeping their horns. Screaming or hollering." ..Source.. by Eric Mansfield

No comments: