Lexington asks drivers not to donate to panhandlers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky's second-largest city has installed signs at busy intersections asking people not to give to panhandlers.

July 14, 2017. Photo by Amy Wallot

The signs are part of an effort to restrict panhandling after the state Supreme Court ruled the city's ordinance outlawing begging on public streets was unconstitutional.

Officials have installed the signs at 46 intersections. The signs tell drivers to "change the way you give" by donating instead to a website, Lexgive.com. Officials say that money will pay for a new program that will pick up panhandlers and take them to city-sponsored jobs twice a week.

Lexington residents reactions are mixed to the new program.

"It's definitely an issue and something that I've never thought would become an issue, but they're coming in larger groups," resident Ali Magyr said.

"The signs serve their purpose, but also I consider the panhandlers more victims than any aggressive behavior," resident David Cronen said. "

One Lexington business owner says the signs are just trying to help.

"It's not just downtown, but in different areas there's been panhandlers in the streets and when they come over there's more than just two lanes," Bella Rose Boutique owner Betty Spain said. "It becomes kind of a safety hazard."

The city also passed a new ordinance to replace the one the court struck down. It bans panhandlers from walking into traffic to ask for money at 75 major intersections.

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