City of Utica Notification 08042022

While kindness and generosity are staples of Utica’s community

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City of Utica Notification

While kindness and generosity are staples of Utica’s community, the city is requesting that residents not give money to panhandlers.

There have been several reported complaints from residents and business owners about panhandling, and it is important the public understand the facts.

State courts have deemed panhandling a Constitutional rights issue. As such, the Utica Police Department (UPD), and other law enforcement entities, cannot regulate or remove panhandlers from public spaces so long as they are not interfering with traffic or causing other public safety hazards.

If individuals are soliciting on private property, property owners can call UPD and they can be removed for trespassing. Unfortunately, the laws do not provide the city the same rights on its publicly owned spaces.

To combat homelessness, the city recently announced funding for two drop-in centers at the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. These centers provide mental health, drug rehabilitation, among other vital services.

The city will always show compassion to those in need, but we must also protect the quality of life for Utica residents. While it is well-intended, giving money to panhandlers only enables their bad habits.

Panhandlers will stop flooding city intersections and spaces when they stop receiving money. Rather than giving money to panhandlers, the city encourages residents and area visitors to donate to organizations which provide services for the homeless.