POUGHKEEPSIE – It is a constitutional right to panhandle, but not aggressively, according to Poughkeepsie city officials and with that in mind, common council members will consider banning belligerent beggars, particularly near businesses.
Alderman Lee Klein’s office is at the corner of Main and Market streets and he said that area, right across from the Civic Center and courts, has problems with those panhandlers.
“It’s not good; it’s a bad thing,” the council’s lone Republican said. “It’s scaring people; it really is.”
Alderwoman Ann Perry said the problem has gotten worse since state mental
hospitals like the Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie, were
closed by the state years ago.
“We have to start from the groundwork to handle these things before they become as big as they are and it’s big and it’s going to get bigger,” Perry said. “Something needs to be done and our governor needs to give us a mental hospital in Dutchess County.”
New Alderman Matthew Hermann-McNamara said not all panhandlers and homeless people are mentally ill. The root cause of much of the problem, drugs and alcoholism, must be addressed, he said.