Group protesting panhandlers meets with county leader

'Taking Seminole County Back' wants to make panhandling illegal without a permit

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The group "Taking Seminole County Back" county leaders to amend the panhandling ordinance to make it illegal to ask for money on the streets without a permit.

"We're ready for change and we're hoping the commissioner will be open to that," Annette Sims with Taking Seminole County Back said.

Sims wants to see change on Seminole County streets. She says there are panhandlers who pretend to be homeless or in need when they really are not.

"A lot of them have homes in our area and they're abusing the system and the neighbors we live with," Sims said.

Sims says she has proof, including property appraiser records and photos of the panhandlers coming in and out of homes. The group brought those documents to a meeting Tuesday afternoon with Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, hoping he will listen to what they have to say.

"Our community is hoping that we can amend these amendments and make panhandling illegal without a permit in Seminole County, just like in Apopka and Altamonte. Close the gap and make us all the same," Sims said.

It is not against the law to stand in a public space and ask for money in Seminole County as long as the panhandlers are not aggressive. The Seminole County Sheriff's Office tells News 6 it is "aware of the issue and we are working very closely with community members to resolve the issue."

News 6 caught up with Greg at the corner of S.R. 434 and Weikva Springs Road Tuesday. He says he is homeless and recently lost his job.

"Anybody can donate to whatever charitable place they want to. If somebody wants to feel good and give them some money, that's up to them," Greg said.

Taking Seminole County Back is discouraging giving money to people they call imposters.

"They'll tell you right to your face they're not homeless. They will come out and tell you i'm not  homeless," Jake Jakubowski with Taking Seminole County Back said.

The group says it does help families who really are in need.

"There's organizations out there that will help you if you have problems," Jakubowski said.

Such as Resource Point at Northland Church. It provides services like housing and financial advice to help hundreds of people a year get back on their feet.

"If all you do is give them money, you just enable them to stay in a system that is already failing them," said senior pastor Dr. Joel C. Hunter, of Northland Church.

Sims tells News 6 her meeting with the county went great.

About the Author: