Panhandlers creating problems for North Spokane businesses

Panhandlers creating problems for North Spokane businesses

For years panhandling has been a problem in Spokane. While there’s an ordinance on the books that makes panhandling a crime in the downtown area, it’s not a high priority.

“I think the truth is, is that the panhandling ordinances aren’t being enforced anywhere in the city cause its a lower priority,” said Spokane City Councilman Breean Beggs.

At the Spokane City Council Public Safety meeting Monday, Spokane police argued there’s not enough of them and in order to even make an arrest they have to see the panhandlers in action.

“The discussion was, is that really worth our time of our precious police resources?” added Councilman Beggs.

Ask any business in the Northtown Square region off Division and Wellesley, and the answer is absolutely.

For them, pandhandling problems appear to be migrating North to their area after some corners downtown became less accessible for panhandlers

Nearly a dozen businesses KXLY spoke with shared stories of harassment and theft by people they believe to be homeless.

At Pueblo Amigo restaurant disturbances have been so scary, they’ve had to call police.

“She started throwing things and causing a ruckus and at that point me and the owner were kind of afraid,” said Pueblo Amigo employee Korena Packnett.

At closing, staff say they have to wait and walk out together.

“It’s kind of like a little sad that we have to do it but its something we put in to place to make sure every single one of our employees gets home safely,” added Packnett.

As frightening as situations might get, they always try to help those looking for money.

Packnett explained, “if someone comes in and says ‘hey we will clean your parking lot, for a meal,’ we definitely let them do that.”

She thinks that is the answer – more help for the needy. It seems the city is on the same wavelength.

“We just funded a project called Project Hope,” said Councilman Beggs. “There’s going to be a van that goes to corners where there are panhandlers and offer them real jobs, right then that they can get cash money that day.”

“You can be a beacon of light for them and their life,” added Packnett.