BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The panhandling ordinance that passed over a year ago meant that panhandlers had to apply for a license to ask for money on the streets in Biloxi. As of Tuesday, licenses are no longer necessary. The amended ordinance now prohibits panhandling at city intersections and interstate entrances and exits.
The vote didn’t happen without some debate among the council members.
“What we wanted to do today is address aggressive peddling and panhandling. So, that’s off of exits, near banks and ATM machines, certain distance from an occupied vehicle and in parks and recreation areas," said Councilman Kenny Glavan. He asked for the definitions of peddlers and panhandlers, as peddlers were left in the ordinance.
City Attorney Peter Abide clarified that peddlers “went door-to-door in neighborhoods selling vacuums” and things of that nature, while panhandlers strictly “stayed within the business areas of the city and asked for money.”
Addressing issues of homelessness was a sticking point for councilman Paul Tisdale. He suggested that the city revisit an assessment and transition program.
“If folks are truly homeless and we want them to transition off of the streets somewhere, then we need to look at an entity, a group or nonprofit that might be willing to place these folks in some sort of housing," Tisdale said.
In addition to intersections and interstate entrances and exits, panhandlers, peddlers and solicitors are prohibited from the following locations: