Many communities in the metro area, including Woodbury, experience the effects of panhandlers. The courts have ruled that panhandlers are protected by the First Amendment and may stand passively and display their signs. However, they may not behave aggressively or interfere with traffic flow. 

Washington County provides many state and federally mandated safety net services (including help with health care, housing, emergency assistance and access to food) to those who are in need. The county has outreach staff that will attempt to make contact with these individuals to make sure they are aware of the availability of possible resources and how they can access them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am approached by a panhandler or someone soliciting money? 

We strongly suggest you do not provide money to panhandlers even if they dress to play to your sympathy or use techniques to amuse you. Politely say “No” or “Sorry.” Pulling out your purse or wallet can also make you a potential victim of a crime. Aggressive panhandling is illegal. If you feel threatened, call 911. Examples of aggressive behavior include:

  • Confronting someone in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm
  • Touching someone without their consent
  • Continuing to panhandle or follow someone after he or she has refused to give money
  • Intentionally blocking or interfering with the safe passage of a person or vehicle
  • Using obscene or abusive language toward someone while attempting to panhandle them
  • Acting with intent to intimidate someone into giving money

What resources are available for people experiencing homelessness or food insecurity in Woodbury?

If you would like to help people in need, donate wisely to the organizations that exist to help them. You can get the most positive results from your donation if you donate to charitable organizations. A variety of resources and non-profit partners are available in Woodbury and the greater metro area to help those who are in need. These organizations provide a local food shelf, assist with housing needs, and assess physical and mental health needs. Donating to these organizations helps support long-term solutions. A few resources for panhandlers and homeless people include:


Our Community Impact Unit assists with concerns regarding panhandling. If you have additional or unaddressed concerns, please send an email to Sgt. Chris Donahoe.