Panhandling already is illegal in Dallas, but that is not enough for some members of City Council.
City Council members considered tougher restrictions on panhandling Monday.
Rich Callahan, who sits on the council’s quality of life committee, says he is fed up with panhandlers, who he has witnessed evading police by hightailing it under highway bridges “to the 7-Eleven or a hideout somewhere.”
“They’re nonconformists,” he told the panel, adding that the city provides “three hots and a cot” to the homeless but that panhandlers are rule-breakers, “nonconformists,” he reiterated.
Dallas County already does not have enough jail space, Callahan says. But he says Dallas Police should arrest and rearrest panhandlers and send them over and over again through a “processing center” until they finally leave town.
“I don’t care where they go,” he said.
Councilwoman Carolyn Davis said the city of Dallas ought to offer more compassion than that. She suggested offering more in the way of mental health treatment as a way of reducing the numbers of panhandlers.
Texas ranks 49th in spending on mental health care, and mentally ill people of low income have few if any options for care.
To get a first-hand perspective on this topic, try offering to buy a sign from a panhandler as part of Oak Cliff-based artist Willie Baronet’s We Are All Homeless project.