The New Bedford City Council is once again looking to draft an ordinance regarding panhandling.

During Thursday night's meeting, Councilor at Large Brian Gomes introduced a motion aimed at discussing ways the city can rid the streets of panhandlers.

"What we have is an epidemic problem of drug addicts asking for money," Gomes said during the meeting.

The Council has previously tried to draft ordinances banning panhandling, but that was put on hold after similar laws were found unconstitutional in Worcester.

The idea that is picking up support within the Council is a permitting process for soliciting. This would not only apply to panhandlers, but any person or organization collecting money on city roadways.

"You want to stand on my corner and collect for an organization or whatever that we're not aware of, you have to get a permit issued by City Hall just so that we know you're there legally," Gomes said. "Otherwise, you're there illegally."

These permits would be of no charge, but would allow police more enforcement power when dealing with panhandlers not possessing a permit.

The City Council will further discuss the feasibility of an ordinance at a future Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods meeting, where representatives from the New Bedford Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, and the city will be invited.

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