Public Interest Law Reporter


Anthony Wadas

Document Type



Chicago passed an ordinance banning "aggressive panhandling," and the definition is rather broad, providing no clear definition of what constitutes "aggressive." The ordinance outright bans panhandling in certain locations, such as within ten feet of any CTA bus stop, "L" entrance, ATMs, or certain businesses including currency exchanges, banks, and outdoor cafes. Additionally, individuals are prohibited from soliciting people in vehicles for donations. Further, it prohibits soliciting in a manner that a reasonable person would find intimidating. Faced with these efforts to criminalize the homeless condition, individuals living on the streets face additional struggles when trying to escape poverty. People with criminal records are not eligible for government-subsidized housing. Additionally, a criminal record makes it even more difficult to find a job. When their property is discarded, especially when they lose identifying documents, it can become more difficult to obtain services or employment. Burdened with excessive court fees, it can become impossible to save money to obtain housing. Through criminalization, the legal-justice system itself is perpetuating this cycle of poverty. Herein, I will examine this criminalization and a proposed court-alternative to this pattern.