Tackling problem of persistent panhandlers with additional HPD patrols

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The Southwest Freeway is among the region's busiest corridors. Its feeder roads in Houston are populated by cars, and at major intersections, populated by panhandlers.

This month, the Houston Police Department launched a program targeted at getting panhandlers away from busy roadways, and directing them to social service agencies equipped to address their housing and employment needs.

At 59 and Hillcroft, a smiling window washer called Marcus says he took up the job of cleaning windows in hopes of getting a dollar a car, as a way to generate some cash. He says he's been homeless for five months.

Houston District Council Member Mike Laster says aggressive panhandling is one of the most frequent constituent complaints. In keeping with the HPD anti-panhandling effort, Laster is pledging $50,000 from his office's discretionary budget to fund police overtime. It will pay for 400 hours of officers' time to patrol 59 panhandling hotspots along Highway 59, from the Beltway to the Loop.

The overtime program is expected to begin soon.

As for Marcus, he's seen it before. "When (police) tell me to get going, I get going. They tell me to go some more, I go some more," he says. null
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.