Kennewick panhandling pushes towards Richland

Kennewick panhandling pushes towards Richland
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - Kennewick took a strict turn with panhandlers at busy intersections.

Now months later some worry this has only pushed vagrants to other towns.

Kennewick may have found a solution to its panhandling problems.
Six months ago a new law hit the books.

Panhandlers can't hang out near the area of 395 and Clearwater and also Columbia Drive and Washington Street. It was determined to be too dangerous.

No more knocking on car windows or any other aggressive way of asking for cash. This is now a criminal offense at those intersections.

Police couldn't give an exact figure but say, they've issued several tickets. That crackdown may have pushed panhandlers into other busy intersections, including those in Richland.

Neighbor Cathy Pofft said, "It's just been an increasing problem. People darting out in traffic, flashing their signs."

She says she constantly sees people panhandling near the Winco in Richland.

It where "Jeff" asks for money. He didn't want to go on-camera but told me he isn't sure where he should go. Jeff used to panhandle in Kennewick but doesn't want to take a chance even at another intersection.

Which could be why it may seem more people are popping up elsewhere.

Some will actually stand on this concrete barrier that divides traffic between Columbia Point Drive and G-Way. You can tell by the cars that are all around this area this isn't exactly the safest place to ask for spare changes.

Neighbors like Cathy hope Richland will take swift action on its panhandling.

"I don't want to be responsible for hitting somebody whether it's my fault or not, you know, and trying to swerve to miss somebody else and cause an accident, it's just not safe," she said.

Hoping they do what Kennewick did to make sure everyone stays safe.

KEPR reached out to Richland's city attorney about the increase in unsafe soliciting. We have yet to hear if the city is considering a solution similar to Kennewick's.

We will be sure to follow up on this issue.