Begging for help

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Some who struggle will stand on a street corner with sign in hand, asking for donations.

But that isn't necessary in the Tri-Cities.

“We would always encourage people to come to our main office on Fulton Avenue,” Love INC Tri-Cities Executive Director Mark Green said. “We have ways of distributing food to them.”

It also isn't allowed, at least not in the City of Grand Haven.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said a city ordinance states that it is "unlawful for any person to accost, molest, beg, panhandle or willfully annoy another person.”

Hawke said they occasionally have reports of panhandlers. Officers that respond to the call will determine what type of assistance the person may need — shelter, food, transportation or perhaps something else.

“Once the need is determined, officers make contact on behalf of the person in need with community agencies and organizations that provide assistance,” Hawke said. “Officers may also provide direct assistance, such as transportation to a shelter.”

If the officer determines that the person is not truly in need, they are asked to discontinue the activity and a warning is issued for violating the city ordinance.

“If the activity continues, the person could be cited for the ordinance violation,” Hawke said.

Green said Love INC volunteers in the past have seen people in need along the road and reached out to help.

“We have over 36 ministries that will help meet their needs,” he said. “I want those people to come in and see that we have an incredibly awesome community.”

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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