City of Bloomington installs signs to discourage panhandling

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- New signs installed this week in downtown Bloomington discourage people from giving money to panhandlers.

The signs are part of a larger initiative to make the city safer, touted by the Mayor and Bloomington Police Chief in August.

"We are aiming to make our downtown safe for everybody. There are people who live on the street who we want to be safe, there are people who come to restaurants and shops that we want to be safe," Community and Family Resources Director Calender-Anderson said.

The signs, which are posted along Kirkwood Avenue and around the square downtown, read "Don't Encourage Panhandling...Contribute to the Solution," and include a link to a city website that lists charities to donate to that provide resources to the homeless and those in need.

According to city officials, there have been 21 reports of aggressive panhandling since August.

Panhandling itself is legal, but aggressive panhandling is prohibited and Calender-Anderson said the city wants to discourage any giving to individuals downtown.

"People in Bloomington are very passionate and they want to give, and we want them to be able to do that. We want them to be able to help their fellow neighbor that they feel is down on their luck, we just want it to be in a way that’s effective, that really gets essential services to the people that need them," Calender-Anderson said.

One of those people down on his luck is Chris Ashburn, who told FOX59 that while some people are bothered by the signs, he's okay with them.

"There are a lot of people out here that take advantage of it, but there are some people that are trying to do something," Ashburn said.

He said that he hoped for more resources as much as anyone.

"Really just some decent paying jobs and some affordable housing, and that would clear up a whole lot of whatever’s going on," Ashburn said.

In addition to the signs, Bloomington Police will soon add cameras to two spots along the B-Line Trail, and in People's Park, as well as Seminary Park.

To see the webpage the signs point to for giving, go to the link here.