Savannah city council to discuss funding for new homeless plan

Savannah city council to discuss funding for new homeless plan

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savanah city council will meet for its regular meeting on Thursday and there are some big items on the agenda.

Some items up for discussion include ballot drop-boxes for the November election and a new lease agreement for the Savannah Bananas to continue playing at Grayson Stadium.

Council will also talk about funding a new strategy to fight homelessness in the community. The Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless says those handing out cash to panhandlers could be bringing more harm to the community than good.

The city says during this pandemic, you may have noticed more panhandlers at traffic lights and other street corners. And that could be related to low tourism numbers. They say there aren’t many tourists offering cash to these individuals in downtown Savannah, so they’re finding other ways.

The Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless says panhandling can be dangerous for several different reasons. Darting in and out of traffic to collect a few dollars can be dangerous for that individual as well as for drivers. They say there are also a lot of unknowns as to where that money is going after you give it to them. That’s why they want to create an anti-panhandling campaign to show people that if they want to help the homeless, there are better ways to do so, and they would like the city of Savannah to help with this new strategy.

WTOC spoke with the Strategic Initiatives Manager for the City of Savannah. He says fighting panhandling is harder than one would think.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that panhandling is the act of free speech. And that’s not the issue. The issue is if it’s being done in a safe manner. So, if someone is standing in a median or walking between cars, it can become a public safety issue. It could be dangerous for drivers as well as the individual who is trying to get additional resources,” said Glenn Hull, Strategic Initiatives Manager for the City of Savannah.

Hull also says law enforcement can intervene if the panhandling becomes aggressive.

Thursday’s City Council Workshop will begin at 4 p.m. To view the full agenda, click here.

We’ll have updates later today online and on air.

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