City of Hampton asks people to stop giving money to panhandlers

HAMPTON, Va. - The city of Hampton is in the process of putting up signs to discourage panhandling. The sign will read,

"Please don't encourage panhandling. The city and local nonprofits help the homeless."

City officials believe giving money to nonprofit organizations go farther and will help more people. The signs will be posted along several streets including Coliseum Drive, Mercury Boulevard and King Street, and on Hampton Roads Center Parkway.

Many cities in Hampton Roads have ordinances to control panhandling. However, Chesapeake city officials said they don't prohibit solicitation due to recent federal court decisions.

Portsmouth's ordinance reads that a panhandler can be charged with a misdemeanor if they approach others aggressively. This includes harassment, insisting that people should hand out money, cause physical harm or intentional blocking people from walking away.

The same rules apply in Newport News, but panhandlers cannot grab people's attention by playing music, holding signs or having street performances. It's also illegal at bus stops, within 20 feet of public property, before sunrise and after sunset in the city.