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Is New Panhandling Ordinance In Fargo Working? - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Is New Panhandling Ordinance In Fargo Working?

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 We see them all the time: people on the side of the road asking for money. If you're in Fargo this weekend, you may be seeing quite a few more. A group is traveling across the country, stopping in cities to get money to survive and using what's left to help others who are homeless, but sometimes what they do can get them in trouble with the law. To keep this in check, Fargo updated its ordinance last fall, saying they had to stay within 20 feet of an intersection, not go in a median or get too close to a bus stop.

Panhandler, Lukas Rardin, says, "It's not what I want to do."

When you've been homeless for years...

"We just don't have the money, so we have to pan handle," says Lukas.

The kind gesture of a couple dollars can change your day. 

Rardin says, "Lock doors, roll their windows up fast. Tell their kids not to look."

Lukas is passing through Fargo with a group of 20 others. They all make a living by panhandling, and to do that, it takes strategy.

Meet Jasmine. She's his friend.

"She's not even a dog to me" says Rardin.

She's his therapy.

Rardin says, "She helps me with my mental disorders."

She's also his coworker.

"Dogs are a major factor. If you don't have a dog, usually, people don't want to give you money. I always food and water for her," says Rardin.

Besides taking care of his business partner, he's got to worry about the law. Last fall, Fargo enacted a new ordinance.

Deputy Chief Pat Claus with the Fargo Police Department says, "Not within 20 feet of intersections of city streets, a state highway or state highway onramp."

They aren't sure whether the ordinance is limiting pan handling or just sending it to the edge of town.

Rardin says, "This town's pretty laid back about it, which is why we're here."

"Time will tell if it reduced it or just redistributed the issue," says Deputy Chief Claus.

That's what Lukas and his friends did. To keep in line with the law, they spread out around town. They say many others who pan handle will, because in the traveling community, Fargo is a hot spot.

Rardin says, "People that's on the RV, she's been here before and made a lot of money, so that's why we stopped here."

Lukas and his group plan to be in Fargo for a couple more days. They're riding around in a colored bus and an RV and encourage people to stop by, chat with them about the effort they're working on and if you can donate. It's also an opportunity to see that those on the side of the road asking for money are often times good people, who sometimes just need a little help.

In Fargo, panhandling is not allowed downtown or near intersections. Also, if a panhandler in some way intimidates someone to give them money, it is illegal. Police say if you see this happening to call them. That helps ensure everyone stays safe.

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