$50,000 cash a year: Inside the lucrative lives on Charlotte panhandlers

One panhandler said they make enough money to equal the salary of an entry-level teacher in North Carolina. 

You've seen panhandlers standing at intersections across the city, often times asking for money. The Defenders Mark Boyle got an inside look at the rules of panhandling... and they may surprise you.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are rules against panhandling in the City of Charlotte yet it’s an issue police say they are still working to get a handle on.

“It's certainly an issue,” explained Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police community coordinator, Russ Faulkenberry.

You’re likely to see people asking for money at major intersections like the inner loop of I-485 and South Boulevard and I-85 and Brookshire Boulevard.

While some say they are breaking the rules, others would argue it’s a way for those down on their luck to get by. 

A way of life for many in this community.

What's the worst thing that has happened to you our here? 

The man standing on the corner who is a self-proclaimed drug addict didn't hesitate. 

"I've gotten robbed a couple of times," he said. "I've gotten punched on the median on and off several times. It's a rough neighborhood."

The man, who didn't want to be identified, says what he and others on the streets really need is food. 

"Give food, give clothes, giving something helpful all the time," he explained. "Water is great."

He says he has tried to get clean in the past, but his addiction has overtaken his efforts. 

"I'm an addict," he said bluntly.

How lucrative is panhandling?

You might be surprised how much cash panhandlers take in on a daily basis.

So you might be asking yourself, "How lucrative is it to stand on the corner and beg for money?"

No one is getting rich, but some panhandlers told NBC Charlotte they make $100 to $200 per day. 

"One lady gave me $200 one time," said one person. 

If you take that number and do the math, the panhandler could make over $50,000 per year. More than what an entry-level teacher in North Carolina earns. 

Is panhandling legal?

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, there are rules for when and where people can and can't ask you for money. 

"When the sun goes down, any kind of panhandling is illegal at dark," said Faulkenberry.

Police also say aggressive panhandling and begging in traffic are prohibited. CMPD says save your cash and donate it to an organization that helps people who are down on their luck. 

"CMPD recommends to not give them money, just to say no," Faulkenberry said. "If you are panhandled, just say no and keep walking. Don't roll the window down to engage, just say no and keep going."

There are several homeless organizations in Charlotte that help adults, as well as children. Police will tell you it's those groups that ultimately have the tools to help someone who is begging get off the streets for good. 

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