UPDATE June 2019: Since launching the Housing Not Handcuffs campaign in August 2018, four cities have repealed their panhandling ordinances, including Ridgeland, Meridian, Starkville, and Southaven.
UPDATE 9/5/2018: The City of Vicksburg's city attorney responded to our letter, informing us that they are in the process of removing the panhandling ordinances from the books. We look forward to working with them. See the response below.
Everyone has the right to ask for help. But in cities across Mississippi and across the U.S., that right is being compromised by bans against panhandling.
In partnership with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty's campaign, we sent a letter to the mayors of 16 cities, demanding the repeal of panhandling ordinances, which infringe the free speech rights of people experiencing homelessness. These bans must be repealed until basic needs such as food, health care, and housing are met for all people experiencing homelessness.
Since the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, providing heightened protections for free speech rights, more than 25 laws attempting to ban panhandling have been found unconstitutional. It is our hope that the cities below will place an immediate moratorium on enforcement of these ordinances, proceed with a rapid repeal, and develop strategies that will lead to the best outcomes for all of the residents who live there, housed and unhoused alike.
The targeted cities include Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven, Meridian, Greenville, Olive Branch, Horn Lake, Clinton, Ridgeland, Starkville, Vicksburg, Pascagoula, Brandon, Clarksdale, Natchez, and Greenwood. Anyone affected by these unconstitutional laws should contact us immediately.