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What You Can Do to Help Reduce Panhandling

To report aggressive panhandling call 911

Download a PDF of this document here.

1. Train your staff. Help them understand the legal definition of panhandling.

What is Panhandling?
Indiana law defines panhandling as a vocal solicitation involving a request for an immediate donation of money or other gratuity made in person in a public place.

What is not Panhandling?

Passive solicitation, such as sitting on a corner holding a sign or jingling a cup of change, is protected by the United States Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

When is Panhandling Illegal?

Panhandling is illegal when the vocal solicitation is made:
• at specific times. Panhandling is prohibited between sunset and sunrise.
• or, in specific places when the person being solicited is at or in:
a bus stop, public transportation vehicle or facility;
a vehicle on a public street or alley; or
a sidewalk café; or
a line to enter a business; or
an area within 20 feet of an ATM or bank entrance.

Panhandling is illegal whenever there is aggressive contact with a person being solicited. This includes:
• touching the person without consent; or
• blocking the path of the person being solicited; or
• walking behind, ahead or alongside the person; or
• directing profane language at the person; or
• making an intimidating gesture or statement to the person; or
• panhandling in a group of two or more.

Illegal panhandling is a Class C Misdemeanor. Individuals can be processed through the Arrestee Processing Center where preliminary mental health and addiction needs are evaluated.

2. Report aggressive panhandling. Call 911!!

Call the police when you experience aggressive panhandling or other illegal activity. Reporting the activity helps provide the needed law enforcement and legal attention.

Call 911 for emergencies;
Call 327.3811 for non-emergency situations

3. Do not give money to people on the street.

Giving money to panhandlers only encourages more panhandling.
• Most panhandlers are not homeless.
• Many panhandlers are scam artists.
• Many panhandlers have alcohol and/or drug addictions. Giving money to panhandlers often feeds drug or alcohol addictions and may deter individuals from seeking the help they need.

4. Encourage your guests and employees to give to their favorite charity or Chip
in at the Box.

• There is a better way to help. Instead of giving money to a panhandler, please give to an Indianapolis charity of your choice, or “Chip in at the Box” where your generosity will provide food, shelter and assistance to those in need.

• Do not be fooled. In spite of pleas for help or signs indicating a need, please do not give money to people on the street. Instead, direct them to the food, shelter and assistance locations below.

5. Direct people on the street to food, shelter and assistance locations or call 211
for help.

Downtown Food Assistance

Cathedral Kitchen
St. Peter & Paul Cathedral
14th & Pennsylvania Street

Fletcher Place Community Center
1637 Prospect Street

Wheeler Mission (Men)
520 E. Market Street

Wheeler Mission (Women & Children)
3208 E. Michigan Street

Downtown Indianapolis Emergency Shelter and/or Outreach

Homeless Initiative Program
1835 N. Meridian Street

Horizon House (Day Center)
1033 E. Washington Street

Salvation Army (Women/Families)
540 N. Alabama Street

Wheeler Mission (Men)
520 E. Market Street

Wheeler Mission (Women & Children)
3208 E. Michigan Street

For other services, call 211 or 926.4357
(24 hours a day, free and confidential) or log on to www.connect2help.org

Download a PDF of this document here.

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