Panhandling issues come back to Augusta commission for discussion

Richmond County

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Getting panhandled, it’s an issue even for Augusta commissioners.   

“I’ve been approached by them several times several times, I act like I’m on the phone, shoo them off, you have some who walk away and some who demand,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.  

In August, Augusta commissioners were preparing to vote to expand the aggressive panhandling ordinance to cover more of the city but it was pulled by the Planning Department but city leaders saying the problem hasn’t gone away. 

“I think it is as bad as it was in the summer, I just don’t know what the conversation is today we’ll find out and we’ll make a decision on it, is something we need to get a handle on it,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.  

A commission committee hearing from the Salvation Army that has produced cards that can be handed out to businesses, the cards list the address of the Salvation Army shelter and says all services there are free of charge 

“It’s answers for businesses that don’t know what to say when they’re asked for help it’s answers for customers who don’t know what to say and want to help but it’s also answers for people who need help, so it accomplishes all three,” said Salvation Army Development Director Derek Dugan.  

 But some commissioners say it appears there are panhandlers who are not interested in the services provided by the Salvation Army. 

“A lot of them, if you look at the clothes they are wearing, their shoes, how clean they are you ask yourself ‘is this a part-time job or do they really need help’,” said Commissioner John Clarke.  

The Salvation Army is providing help but say their information cards are not the answer but are an answer.

The cards are just one of the recommendations being worked on by the city’s homeless task force. 

Co-chairman, Commissioner Jordan Johnson says the full recommendations will be presented later. 

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