Panhandling on the Streets of Salisbury - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Panhandling on the Streets of Salisbury

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Tracy Price's cardboard sign has a plea. It reads, “Left my abusive husband, please pray for me.” (Photo: WBOC) Tracy Price's cardboard sign has a plea. It reads, “Left my abusive husband, please pray for me.” (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md. – You may have seen them, standing in the middle of the road in Salisbury, cardboard sign in hand. Often there's an explanation on that piece of cardboard and, even more often, there's a plea.

Tracy Price's cardboard sign has a plea. It reads, “Left my abusive husband, please pray for me.” Price said she never expected to hold it either.

"If anybody ever told me I was going to be in this situation, I'd of never believed it," she said.

Price said she grew up in Salisbury and even went to college for two years. Today, she stands nearly motionless, head hanging low on a median strip off Route 13. 

"It is the most embarrassing, humiliating thing that I've ever been through," Price said..

For Price, panhandling is a degrading way to get by and there are laws that work against those who do it. The line is a gray one but if crossed, folks looking for a handout could find themselves in the hands of the law.

Wicomico County State's Attorney Matt Maciarello said it is a challenging problem to solve. 

"If you don't get to the root of the problem it's just going to continue to happen," he said. 

Panhandling itself is not a crime but habitual panhandling is. However, more times than not, it is other citations that panhandlers would face. They include trespassing on posted property, refusal to leave public grounds, being a traffic hazard or failing to obey a lawful order. 

Mind them or not, Maciarello said panhandlers can, in certain situations, be a danger to themselves or others. He also said throwing them in jail is usually not the best option. 

"Mental health is a big component and a big part of why the offender is partaking in this activity," Maciarello said.

Maciarello said his office works closely with the Department of Social Services to come up with plans that are less about punishment and more about problem-solving.

One couple that is often spotted panhandling off Route 13 said they live in a tent. The man said he is perfectly content asking for money because he cannot get a job with the criminal record he has. He said surviving is a full-time job. He doesn't understand why he and his significant other should not be allowed to ask for money and said they are not bothering anybody. 

As for how much a panhandler can make, the man said he and his partner used to make a lot more when they had a location on the corner of Bob Evans, located at the intersection of Route 13 and Naylor Mill Road. On a good month back then, he said it was possible to make $3,800. He said he enjoys being outside and would not choose it any other way.

Price said this is not what she wants for herself. However, for now she continues to hang her head, panhandling on the streets of Salisbury.

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