De Blasio ‘Wishes’ Panhandling Would Be Illegal in NYC

NEW YORK -

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he would make street-corner collecting a crime.

Speaking to the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC from Hamburg, Germany, where he had gone to protest President Donald Trump, the Democratic mayor said he would encourage New Yorkers not to give money to people collecting on the streets.

“Sometimes we see people on the street who are bluntly just panhandlers, who are actually not even homeless. … I wish that were illegal,” de Blasio said.

He later clarified that he was speaking “not as a matter of policy” but “as a human being, bluntly.”

“I know constitutionally, of course, it cannot be banned,” he said, “but I’m just expressing a frustration because I think it hurts the quality of life.”

Instead of giving money, de Blasio advised, passerby should call 311.

“New Yorkers … have rough exteriors, but behind our exteriors beat hearts of gold,” he said. “I think New Yorkers are compassionate people. And we often see someone panhandling and our better angels tell us, you know, let’s help them out. But I often know that’s not ultimately the way to change anyone’s life.”