Judge rules Tampa's ban on panhandling is unconstitutional

Agressive panhandling still banned
Posted at 11:28 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 02:23:41-04

"They ask for money, ask for food, cigarettes," said Ybor business owner Jason Fernandez.

For businesses in the famed Ybor district, dealing with the homeless can be overwhelming.

"The homeless issue is something that we address on a daily basis," said Fernandez.

To stem the constant panhandling problem plaguing the area, the City of Tampa passed an ordinance banning the practice in 2013.

On Monday a Federal judge overturned the ban.

"We feed 3,000 people a month, hygiene kits, clothes, showers," said Aldolphus Paker.

Parker's non-profit Homeless Helping Homeless receives thousands of dollars a year by soliciting donations on the street. Since the halt, they say they haven't been able to help as many homeless families. So they sued the city to overturn the ban and won.

"We thought the law was just targeting our organization," said Parker.

But some businesses see it a little differently.

"Outside our store where people sit, they would run into panhandling," said Mike Cincunegui. "People would come by asking for money or change."

Cincunegui of Longash Cigars says the ban worked to change that, but recognizes the plight of those who are struggling.

"It's definitely better without the panhandling, but I understand that people have it tough and sometimes you got to do what you got to do," said Cincunegui sympathetically.

The city is considering an appeal, but until then, police officers have been ordered to cease enforcement.