Protect Homeless Against Unfair Anti-Panhandling Measure

Denver Skyline_By_Matt Wright

Target: David Broadwell, Denver City Attorney’s Office

Goal: Prevent proposed ballot measure that targets and marginalizes homeless population.

A ballot measure has been proposed in Denver that would ban “street-side” panhandling, making the act punishable by a $300 fine or 15 days in jail.  While proponents of this measure insist it doesn’t target the homeless population, they are hard-pressed to name offenses other than panhandling that would be addressed if the measure was passed.  This measure is a blatant attack on people who are impoverished or homeless, and directly infringes on their First Amendment rights, which protect peacefully asking for charity.

Homeless advocates in Denver are deeply concerned about this proposed measure.  For many homeless in the area, panhandling is a means of survival, sometimes giving them the money needed to find a motel room in a city whose shelters don’t have enough beds to serve the growing homeless population.  In addition to targeting the impoverished, this proposed measure would also cause more ineffective usage of taxpayer money as it would increase the amount being spent on incarceration of those who offend.  This money could be better spent on more housing for the homeless population.

This proposed measure is extremely unfair, and only aims to further marginalize Denver civilians who are already facing extreme hardship.  It is essential that we stand up for the people who this measure is trying to make invisible. Please sign the below petition to show your support for the rights of the homeless population of Denver.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Broadwell,

I am writing to request the denial of the proposed ballot measure that would make “street-side” panhandling in Denver punishable by a $300 fine or 15 days in jail.  This measure is highly unfair as it targets the homeless population of Denver who are already struggling, some of whom use panhandling as a means of survival.  The further marginalization of an already downtrodden population is inhumane, and I ask that you please make every effort to prevent this measure from making it to the November ballot.

This ballot measure is alarming for a number of reasons.  First, it is apparent that it would have a direct impact on the city’s homeless population, which is growing at a rate that outpaces the space available in shelters.  For many homeless people, panhandling is a means of survival, allowing them to garner money for food or a motel room for the night.  By making panhandling a criminal activity, one of the few resources available to these individuals will be taken away.  Secondly, asking for charity is a right, protected by the First Amendment.  Therefore, this measure would be in direct violation of First Amendment rights.  Finally, this measure would cause ineffectual use of taxpayer money as it would have to be funneled toward incarceration costs for offenders, rather than be applied to something more important, such as housing for the homeless.

This proposed measure is extremely unfair, and it will only further marginalize the homeless population of Denver. Please take all efforts to ensure it doesn’t make the ballot in November.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matt Wright

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One Comment

  1. Freya Harris says:

    I know that panhandlers can be a nuisance – but the best way to solve this problem is take away the need to beg. Many cities have meters where passers-by can insert coins and bills, and the money is then distributed amongst the needy. Austerity sucks!

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163 Signatures

  • ORPHA DESS WILSON
  • Yaedi Ignatow
  • sheila childs
  • Gertie Hunt
  • Holly Hall
  • PAUL FRANCIS WALKER
  • Terrie Phenicie
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