Philadelphia cracks down on Center City panhandling

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Philadelphia is trying to crack down on aggressive panhandlers in Center City.

Outreach workers went out Monday evening to four problem spots: Avenue of the Arts, The Convention Center, Independence Hall and Rittenhouse Square.

Along with the high end stores on Walnut Street in Rittenhouse are also those living on the sidewalks.

Outreach workers like Jessica Perez work in shifts and are now focusing on hot spots or high volume areas where there's homelessness.

"It's being more targeted, outreach has always existed. We just talk, engage and link people with services," Perez said.

"It's a community problem, it's a city problem, it's all of our problem," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

City officials say there's more homeless in Center City, especially after Love Park closed for renovations.

One man who didn't want his face on camera told Action News he's been living on the streets since 2011.

"People are making money, panhandling, it's what they do to survive," the man said.

Mayor Kenney says the goal isn't to criminalize people living on city streets, only connect them with help they need.

This is a pilot program that will be in place through the spring and summer.

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