Residents worried about escalating panhandling at Charlotte intersection

Aggressive panhandling

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Vincent isn't a native Charlottean, but the homeless man is part of a problem at a South Charlotte intersection.

"I'm from a small town and I heard there was a lot of opportunity in Charlotte, so I came to Charlotte to try and get a job. It's just been rough on me," he said.

The way Vincent tells the story, he's been panhandling for about a year at the intersection of South Boulevard and Sharon Road West.

"I went to prison and my mother died and my father got passed away," Vincent said.

He said he landed in Charlotte and sleeps near the Sharon Road West light rail stop, and stays near the area to beg strangers for money.

"It actually cuts down on crime because the majority of the people who do this - if we couldn't this - we would have to be forced to be doing other criminal activity like breaking in houses and stealing," Vincent said. "I don't agree with stealing or anything like that but I have to eat. I have to survive."

But neighbors and drivers say the methods of survival panhandlers are using are getting troublesome.

Vincent admitted some panhandlers get aggressive.

"I've seen some people go to the extreme and actually knock on people's doors and do the aggressive thing but I don't agree with that," Vincent said. "If somebody wants to give me something I appreciate it, but I'm not going to act out of the way to try to get it. I don't agree with that. That's the ones that give people like us a bad name."

Josh Hamilton doesn't know names but the ways he sees it - all of the panhandlers at the intersection are a problem.

"They're always panhandling. You pull up and wait for the light and they walk all the way down the median," Hamilton said. "They hold up a sign to your window and sometimes they knock on the window and ask for money and you just wave them on and they keep going down and they keep showing up day in and day out."

Hamilton said he lives and works in the area. He said he's seen some of the panhandlers come in his store and steal beer, and seen the littering of half empty beer cans, broken bottles, and lunch left-overs in the median and the corners of the intersection.

Hamilton said he is especially worried because no one knows what the panhandlers will do when they approach.

"You don't know if they're going to rob you. You don't know if they're going to carjack you," he said.

"They've been fights out here about who's gonna get what territory. What side? I seen somebody come with a busted head," said Dontrez McCorey who works at a nearby convenience store.

McCorey said the panhandling is affecting business.

"They be over here soliciting so we can't... there's a couple of people that's banned that be over there panhandling and they can't come over here in this location over here," he said.

Why are the panhandlers gravitating to that south Charlotte intersection?

"Downtown and other places - there's a lot of violent people," Vincent said. "It's kinda hard to go to sleep when you're worried about who comes up on you and things like that."

Hamilton said everyday there are different people panhandling. He said he has seen police officers talking to them

He doesn't understand why the panhandlers are using the intersection.

"There are plenty of places where I know there are food shelters and stuff like that if they want to work," Hamilton said.

But, Vincent said work has been hard to come by while living on the streets.

He walks with a cardboard sign that says "Homeless. Need work. Please pray for me."

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