Panhandling or Policy: Are anti-panhandling laws effective or a pseudo-solution?

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Venus Nakahara


This paper was originally written for Dr. Jan MacLean’s FANX99 course Foundations of Academic Literacy. The assignment asked students to choose from a list of essay topics and analyze both sides in a balanced manner, while also defining their own opinion. The paper uses APA citation style.

In this essay I will argue that anti-panhandling laws are not effective as they do not provide the solutions necessary to ensure that individuals do not need to resort to panhandling to survive. Research has shown that unless the underlying causes of severe poverty and homelessness are addressed, creating prohibitive by-laws will not produce lasting resolutions. Certain measures such as Housing First in Finland or creating employment opportunities for those in vulnerable situations have proven to be effective and lasting solutions that encompass housing and lack of income for the homeless. However, several municipalities in BC have implemented anti-panhandling laws that enable law enforcement to charge fines to deter panhandlers from sitting, lying down, or asking for money in certain places, or at certain times. Furthermore, these municipalities claim they have implemented these bylaws for the safety and comfort of their residents. I believe this reasoning to be elitest and exclusionary as it does not include homeless residents as part of the group that need protection. My position regarding the implementation of anti-panhandling laws is that it is not an effective, nor a necessary action to address the underlying issues of extreme poverty and homelessness. When these root causes are resolved, panhandling will cease to be considered as a source of income for those in need.

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First Year Category (0-29 credits)