Repeal of panhandling ban likely to hurt homeless more

The City of Tampa is poised to repeal a ban on roadside panhandling, but instead of having the effect homeless advocates wanted, it will likely cause more damage to the group.

City Council passed the first of two votes to repeal the ban which, until now, allowed for selling newspapers, but barred simple panhandling.

Julia Mandell, city attorney, explains the move to repeal was in response to a lawsuit from a homeless rights group. Mandell says the city hopes to avoid costly litigation with the decision to end the ban.

But instead of allowing homeless to panhandle freely, Mandell says without its own ordinance the city will have to enforce Hillsborough County's ordinance on the subject.

The county ordinance is more restrictive, outright banning the sale of newspapers and panhandling. That means panhandlers are more likely to face jail time or fines in for violations in Tampa.

Before the repeal is final, City Council must take one more vote. That is scheduled for July 16.