Summary of the Cincinnati Panhandling Ordinance

All material taken from City Ordinance 910-12. Improper Solicitation.


The ordinance defines panhandling as making a vocal request for money on public or private property. However, sitting or standing with a sign is not considered panhandling, under this ordinance, day or night, as long as the person does not make any verbal request.


It is a crime to Panhandle in the following places:

  1. In any public transportation vehicle or at any bus stop
  2. Within 20 feet of an ATM or bank entrance
  3. At any parking meter or Pay To Park boxes
  4. In any parking lot or garage
  5. From any person driving or getting into or out of a motor vehicle
  6. Within 20 feet of a crosswalk
  7. From any person standing in line waiting to get into a store, restaurant, etc.
  8. On private property without permission of the owner
  9. After 8pm and before 7am during Daylight Savings Time
  10. After 7pm and before 7am when Daylight Savings Time is not in effect
  11. Within any outdoor dining area, must be adjacent to a restaurant or food service facility
  12. Within 20 feet of any hotel doorway

It is a crime to Panhandle in an aggressive manner by:

  1. Blocking a person’s way into or out of a building or vehicle
  2. Alarming, intimidating, threatening, menacing, harassing or coercing
  3. Following behind, ahead or along side someone and continuing to bother them after they’ve said ‘NO’
  4. Using foul or abusive language or gestures during or after a request for money
  5. Touching or laying hands on someone without that person’s permission
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    It is a crime to lie or mislead people while Panhandling by:

    1. Claiming the money is needed for a specific need when the person has sufficient funds to meet the need
    2. Claiming the money is needed for a reason that doesn’t exist
    3. Claiming to be from out of town, stranded or homeless when it is not true
    4. Claiming to be a member of the military (past or present) when it is not true
    5. Claiming to be mentally or physically disabled when it is not true

    Whoever violates the panhandling ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Whoever violates the ordinance three times or more within one year is guilty of a third degree misdemeanor.


    And, remember, It's OK to say "NO" to panhandlers...but say "YES" to giving to the homeless. Put your change where you can make one. Giving money where it can be used effectively is encouraged. Consider a donation of any kind to those organizations that provide the means to help these individuals.

    How to say "no" to a Panhandler:

    • Make eye contact or acknowledge the person with a nod.
    • Politely say "no"....and remember that assistance is available for these persons.
    • Walk with confidence. The streets of Cincinnati belong to everyone.
    • Remember: Aggressive panhandling is illegal. If you feel threatened, seek out a uniformed Police Officer or a uniformed DCI Downtown Ambassador. To reach an Ambassador, call 623-3429 or contact the Cincinnati Police Department at 765-1212. DCI Clean and Safe team ambassadors wear uniforms composed of royal blue jacket, gold shirt and navy pants. If an EMERGENCY, call 911.
    • Give a street card that describes available social services to people who want the information. Street cards can be obtained by calling DCI, 421-4440.
    • Additional DCI Ambassador program contacts are: Ron Mabry, Supervisor, 623-3427 and Patrick West, Manager, 383-5075
    • If you want to help financially, donate to your favorite charity.