Last Thursday, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless held its annual meeting at the Franklin Circle Church. Aside from handing out its usual advocacy awards, the group also decided to give out its first Roadblock of the Year award ever. The lucky honoree: The City of Akron.
Spokesman Brian Davis says Akron earned its distinction by passing one of the toughest pandhandling laws in the country last year, which ban begging in front of churches.
"Churches are also traditionally where social justice is preached," Davis says. "It's part of the homily to go out and do good and help others. But now you just can't do it right in front of your church."
Davis also found the new law puzzling, since Akron already requires panhandlers to register with the city. "The registration is tough enough. But to restrict people further from asking for help in front of a place where a minister is telling his [congregation] to help the poor is just wrong."
Unfortunately, no one from the City of Akron showed up to receive its plaque, Davis says. They were probably too busy watching Bum Fights 3 (see above). — Denise Grollmus