Residents believe panhandling is biggest issue in Northampton

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – The city of Northampton recently surveyed residents asking for their perspectives of downtown Northampton.

Most of the people in this survey believe panhandling is the biggest issue in downtown Northampton.

The city surveyed more than 5,000 people from Northampton and surrounding communities.

Residents were asked how often they visit downtown, what draws them to the area, and what they’re concerned about.

The majority said panhandling was the biggest issue.

Mayor David Narkewicz said panhandling is just one aspect of much larger societal issues.

The report goes deeper into the social issues behind this because panhandling is the face of it, but there are larger issues around mental health, around poverty, around drug abuse. We can’t pretend those don’t exist, those are at play.

-Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz

Mayor Narkewicz recently created a panhandling task force, that is focused on figuring out how the city should tackle the issue, and what causes people to “panhandle” in the first place.

He said panhandlers can be on the sidewalks, but if they show aggressive behavior they will be arrested.

Other issues that were identified in the downtown study were affordability, drug addiction, empty storefronts, and income inequality.

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