RUMOR: Panhandling is Illegal. Why Does the City Allow it to Continue?

FACT: Panhandling is not a crime in Virginia Beach. In fact, courts have ruled that it's a form of free speech.

​​Even though panhandling itself isn’t a prohibited practice, the City does enforce an ordinance​ that doesn’t allow individuals to stand in the median or otherwise obstruct traffic. This is done as a matter of public safety to keep pedestrians out of the roadways and away from potential harm. If police officers witness someone in the median, or otherwise in the road, they’ll take action to ensure everyone’s safety.

As for giving panhandlers money, that’s a personal choice and entirely up to you on how to proceed. If you’re inclined to help someone you believe is homeless, but don’t feel comfortable giving directly to an individual, there are many other opportunities for helping people in need. 

A reputable nonprofit, such as VB Home Now, can give you peace of mind that your chartable contribution is going to a good cause. VB H​ome​ Now is a new foundation that supports programs at the City’s Housing Resource Center and in the community. These programs go directly towards helping people obtain housing by assisting with things like application fees or rental security deposits. Donation drives or volunteering with an organization that serves homeless people is another way to help.

Spreading the word is incredibly helpful as well. If you know someone experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness, have them call the Regional Housing Crisis Hotline at 757-227-5932. From there, they’ll be connected with the resources to best help their situation. For more ideas on how you can help, or how to get involved, please visit VBgov.com/GiveToHomeless.
 

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