Homeless advocates object to proposed panhandling ordinance

PORTLAND – Homeless advocates plan to oppose a proposed ordinance that would prevent panhandlers from standing in median strips in Portland.

Members of Homeless Voices For Justice and staffers from the Preble Street Resource Center plan to speak against the ordinance when it comes before the Portland City Council on Monday, said Betsy Whitman, community organizer with Homeless Voices for Justice.

Proponents say that standing on median strips poses a safety hazard for both passing vehicles and the panhandlers. The ordinance would prohibit anyone from standing on a median.

But Whitman said that panhandling on the street is not dangerous. However, it does bother some people who simply don’t want to see homeless people on their commute, she said.

"It’s uncomfortable to see the homeless in our community," she said. "The way to address that isn’t to make the homeless invisible, but to provide services and change the systems that are creating homelessness."