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It's ok to say no to panhandling and yes to giving


Why say "no" to panhandling?
  • Cash given to panhandlers will most likely be used to buy alcohol or drugs.
  • Most panhandlers are not homeless.
  • For some, panhandling is a profession and at times, a lucrative one.
  • Homelessness is not the problem for truly needy panhandlers, but rather a symptom of underlying problems. They need help, not handouts.
It is important to note that street vendors, outdoor performers and other people providing a legitimate service with a valid permit are not panhandlers.

What should you do if asked for money?
The best response is to politely say “no” and walk away. If a panhandler becomes aggressive or if you feel threatened, call 911.

How can you help?
  • Help homeless people who are working to get ahead by purchasing a REAL CHANGE newspaper. For more information, visit www.realchangenews.org.
  • Donate your money to legitimate organizations dedicated to helping people in need. Click here for a list.
  • Volunteer your time to organizations and service agencies addressing this issue.
  • Become more knowledgeable about panhandling and homelessness by visiting local service agencies to learn of other ways you can help.
Is panhandling legal?
Panhandling is legal in the City of Seattle unless the panhandler is aggressively begging or obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic as stated in the city's ordinance. Aggressive begging is defined as "to beg with the intent to intimidate another person into giving money or goods." Examples include: touching the person solicited; following the person solicited; using profane or abusive language; using violent or threatening gestures; or persisting in begging after the person solicited has given a negative response.

It is also illegal for a panhandler to obstruct pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Examples include: to walk, stand, sit, lie or place an object in such a manner as to block passage by another person or a vehicle.