UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The City of Utica has issued a request for residents to no longer give out money to the panhandlers in the area.

Mayor Palmieri says that it is the nature of our city to “always show compassion to those in need, but we must also protect the quality of life for Utica residents.”

“While kindness and generosity are staples of Utica’s community, the city is requesting that residents not give money to panhandlers. There have been several reported complaints from residents and business owners about panhandling, and it is important the public understand the facts. State courts have deemed panhandling a Constitutional rights issue. As such, the Utica Police Department (UPD), and other law enforcement entities, cannot regulate or remove panhandlers from public spaces so long as they are not interfering with traffic or causing other public safety hazards. If individuals are soliciting on private property, property owners can call UPD and they can be removed for trespassing. Unfortunately, the laws do not provide the city the same rights on its publicly owned spaces.” – Mayor Robert Palmieri, City of Utica

The city says that the best way to help these people in need is to donate to local centers and charities. Just recently, funding for two new drop-in centers at the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army was announced. They will be providing a multitude of services including mental health and drug rehabilitation.