Panhandling is a growing social and public safety concern faced by cities of all sizes, including Bloomington. Many panhandlers passively ask for money or hold a sign. Others are much more aggressive, making loud, sometime repeated demands and some panhandlers choose to solicit in places that are particularly intimidating such as near ATM machines, in a restroom or near your car. This is considered aggressive panhandling and in Indiana is against the law. You can take action, both to stop the crime and to make a real difference to help people in need. On this page you will find how panhandling is defined; behaviors that are in violation of the law, guidelines for responding to panhandlers and agencies that work with the homeless and low income families in our community.

Definition: Panhandling

According to Indiana Code 35-45-17, Chapter 17, Panhandling means to solicit an individual

The term includes soliciting an individual:

When Panhandling crosses the line:

Panhandling crosses the lines of acceptability and legality when a person knowingly or intentionally does any of the following:

o Block the path of the individual being solicited

o Block the entrance to a building or motor vehicle

o Use profane or abusive language during a solicitation or after being declined

o Make a statement, gesture or other communication that would cause an individual to fear for their safety or feel compelled to donate

o Panhandle with another individual

o Follow or accompany the solicited individual with that individual's consent after the solicited individual has declined to donate money

Guidelines for Responding to Aggressive Panhandling

The decision to give to a panhandler is purely an individual decision. However, if you choose not to donate the best response is to politely say "no" and walk away. Other ways to respond include:

If a panhandler becomes aggressive or if you feel threatened call 911 or tell a police officer on patrol.

What you can do to help homeless and low-income families in our community

Bloomington has many agencies who work with low income individuals and families. Many of these agencies may be found on the United Way of Monroe County website. Others are list

Remember, aggressive panhandling does NOT include:

Standing passively, sitting, performance art or a sign or other indication that a donation is being sought, without any vocal request other than in response to an inquiry by another person.