NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —A Nashville man hopes to put an end to panhandling, especially to those who he says are scammers, by starting a petition that would penalize the people who give them money.
Panhandling has become a national epidemic, and Nashville is no stranger to it.
“It's a proven fact there's money there,” says petition creator Jeff Napier.
Napier hates seeing people take advantage of others. First, he created a Facebook group hoping to expose local schemers and prevent people from falling for their tricks. Now, he's going after panhandlers.
He's not talking about those who are truly homeless and need help, but those who just pretend to need help.
“You've got multiple panhandlers at each exit and, you know, they're swapping shifts and all this. One will walk up, hand the sign to another, and the other walks in the car and leaves. That's the problem,” he says.
Napier claims panhandlers can make several hundred dollars a day. He's frustrated because it takes away from those like Noel Palmer, who have been living under the bridge on Rosa Parks Blvd. for nearly two decades.
“I need what I got,” Palmer says. “I’ve seen people here got cars, got businesses, and were fake. It needs to stop. It's making people hate the people that actually need the help,” he continued.
That's why Napier startedthis petitionproposing that a state law make it illegal to give money to panhandlers and penalize those who do it.
“If they're not making money, they won't do it,” he believes.
Napier's hoping the lack of profitability will drive the fake panhandlers out and force them to seek legitimate employment opportunities. He also believes it would help the homeless population, saying they will be more likely to turn to shelters and other places that offer real help.