Richard Lee Cooper, a 64-year-old man experiencing homelessness, was panhandling along a roadway in Germantown last year when he was struck and killed by a motorist. Spurred by Cooper’s death, the Montgomery County Council is considering a ban on panhandling at median strips. Some homeless advocates support the legislation, saying that it would help keep people safe. Others think tickets and potential criminal charges for nonpayment of fines would make it harder for people to find employment and housing. Firefighters have also weighed in, concerned that the prohibition would impact their annual “Fill the Boot” campaign to raise money for muscular dystrophy research. We discuss whether the legislation represents the right approach, and how it fits into larger efforts to end homelessness in Montgomery County and beyond.


  • Antonia Fasanelli Executive Director of Homeless Persons Representation Project; @HPRPMaryland
  • John Mendez Executive Director of Bethesda Cares; @BethesdaCares

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