Panhandlers with children raising safety concerns on Chagrin Boulevard
Village of Woodmere Mayor worries about the children getting struck by a car
WOODMERE, Ohio (WOIO) -For the last 6 weeks Mayor Ben Holbert has noticed a disturbing trend in the Village of Woodmere: panhandlers popping up in different locations.
Holbert tells 19 News that since July, he sees families lined up and down Chagrin Boulevard, crossing over into neighboring towns like Beachwood and Orange. He said they’re holding signs, asking for money from drivers passing by.
“The M.O. is the same, it’s the father with the sign, it’s the mother sitting off with the child and sometimes they alternate showing the sign,” said Mayor Holbert. ”We get 25,000 cars going up and down this street every day and all it takes is someone not paying attention and drive over and jump the curb and then we have a situation where the child is in dire circumstances.”
The Mayor said the police have received several reports about some of the families.
He tells 19 News he and some business owners have offered the adults jobs, shelter, food and other services but day after day, it’s the same thing.
“I’ve approached them asking them to consider their child. If they want to be out with a sign asking for money and someone gives it to them, that’s their prerogative. But when they put their child a couple of feet away from the sidewalk, a couple of feet from the highway, that’s my concern,” he said.
It is not against the law to panhandle in the Village of Woodmere but those who do it take a risk.
19 News cameras were rolling at I-271 and Chagrin Boulevard Wednesday as a family of four approached drivers and collected cash. They packed up when they saw a crew recording.
“I don’t want to begrudge the individuals, it’s their first amendment right but someone has to worry about the children and I don’t mind being the one to do it,” said Mayor Holbert.
A short-term services team from Cuyahoga County has made contact with some of the individuals and is investigating the situation.
This story will be updated as new details become available.
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