Last night, Boise city council passed an ordinance that will force its homeless to be friendlier when asking you for spare change. The new legislation, which goes into effect on January 2, will make it illegal to solicit for money in certain areas of the city. People will still be allowed to panhandle — but only at sidewalk cafes, ATMs and in roadways. In addition, the ordinance specifies that panhandlers must not be “overly aggressive.” What does that mean exactly? Well, according to the law, anyone who keeps soliciting you for money after being told no is not being a nice enough panhandler. On the first violation, unruly panhandlers will get a warning, on the second they will get an infraction, and those who are caught again within a year will be charged with a misdemeanor.
This all sounds very interesting — this idea of a city with a very well-behaved homeless population, but it’s hard to ignore that it’s a little bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Those who oppose the ordinance point out that it won’t really help those in need. All it will do is try to “hide” the city’s poverty problem and keep the disenfranchised out of the city center. “The homelessness is not the problem; it’s a symptom of the problem, and the problem is we have so many jobs that don’t pay people enough to make a living,” said Vicky McKee, a formerly homeless citizen who came to protest the ordinance.
What do you think of the law? [KTVB]