By Ana Williams
Lansing Township News Staff Reporter
Panhandling has become an obvious actvity in Lansing Township. Today, one may find this trend to be quite common specifically in the Frandor area.
“I panhandle simply because I need help with my rent,” said 27-year-old James Robinson, who recently was panhandling on the corner of East Michigan Avenue and South Homer Street. “I do have a criminal background, so that makes it really hard for me to find a decent paying job. I have only been panhandling for two months now and have been making little progress everyday.”
“I stand out here from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., seven days a week. I just hope that I am done by next month, because not all panhandlers are ‘real’ panhandlers, which sometimes doesn’t bring me in a good light and I may not got a penny some days.”
Robinson’s activities are no secret to local residents.
“Pretty much anyone that lives here is aware of the panhandling trend in the Lansing Township area,” said City Rescue Mission Director of Communications Laura Grimwood. “In the past, there was a correlation between panhandling and addiction.”
“In recent days, there has been a definite increase in the panhandling community and it has almost become in itself a vocation, where there are people who are everyday panhandling as if it were work. A lot of people would associate it with homelessness naturally, although as far as us at the mission, we don’t usually see a lot of our guest out on the corners.”
This is because at the Lansing City Rescue Mission, they provide their guests with food, shelter, hygiene products, and much more, free of charge. They even provide those who extend their stay with case workers, who they meet with every week to make sure guests are actively trying to improve.
The goal of the City Rescue Mission is to meet the needs of their guests at all costs, but their hopes are that their guests will take the time during their days to go out and apply for jobs, sign up for schooling, and visit service agencies. The most important aspect of this facility is the encouragement for self establishment.
Lansing Township Chief of Police Kay Hoffman was asked about the legalities of panhandling in Lansing Township.
“The Court of Appeals gives constitutional rights to panhandlers. Although, there are some things that panhandlers are prohibited to do, such as stand in the middle of the roads of right away and stand on privatly owned property, they also can not have anything on their signs about money,” said Hoffman.
Being police chief, Hoffman was asked for her personal input on this somewhat issue.
“Because some motorists are so generous with giving money and goods, I believe that that is what makes this trend so inviting. I would also like to add that I don’t think there are many people who are comfortable with these people on the corners panhandling money,” Hoffman said.
“You stop at a red light and these people walk very close to your car with anticipation that you will give them money, and I think that this really causes people to form opinions on our community,” said Hoffman.