Orange County mayor looks for ways to crackdown on panhandling

As residents of Orlando's Dr. Phillips neighborhood protest the presence of panhandlers on major roadways, Orange County's mayor is looking for solutions. 

People are fed up with others asking for money on the street.  "All we’re asking is don’t give them cash. Give it to Matthews Hope or other organizations. Coalition of the homeless. That kind of thing," one woman told FOX 35 News.

Currently, there are no ordinances to stop panhandling. "I wouldn’t encourage residents to take enforcement into their own hands. Leave that to the professionals and law enforcement authorities," said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings about "No Panhandling" protestors along Sand Lake Road. 

Residents said they are in support of helping the homeless. Mayor Demings said plans are in place to deal with the homeless crisis. However, being homeless and panhandling are two different issues.

"We’re not trying to criminalize homelessness. We’re trying to, if persons are scammers, we want to be able to address that. So we’re working with law enforcement." 

An Orange County Sheriff’s spokesperson said the county is aware of people soliciting on Sand Lake Road who are not homeless and don’t want help from homeless advocates. They released this statement saying, in part, "In some places, there are ordinances which prohibit solicitation or prohibit people basically ‘camping’ on sidewalks. However, there are no such enforceable ordinances in unincorporated Orange County." 

Mayor Demings said, "We met with the sheriff and are going to take a look at our laws. Our county attorney’s office has been tasked to research the law, research best practices and then come back with some recommendations."

Meanwhile, the protestors were successful in getting some of the panhandlers to leave.