Panhandling: What’s going on behind the sign?

You’ve likely seen panhandlers on city street corners and highway exit ramps. They’re usually holding signs and seeking just a few dollars.

13 Investigates is taking a closer look at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It’s a small city in the Berkshires, with a busy downtown. Residents there say they’ve noticed more panhandlers popping up in recent years — many on East Street. Who are these people, and why is COVID-19 making it a bigger issue?

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The presence of more panhandlers has affected the community and businesses around them.

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Panhandling has been going on for years in many cities and towns. You’ve seen it in Saratoga Springs, Albany, Colonie and beyond. Each one tries to combat the problem in different ways, whether it’s directing people to donate to charities instead, or trying to set rules for panhandlers.

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While affordable housing is one of the biggest issues causing a surge of panhandlers and homelessness after the pandemic, it’s not the only one. A professor with UAlbany said COVID-19 revealed fractures in certain systems. Watch NewsChannel 13 Live at 5 on April 27 to see that story.