The #IAskForHelpBecause Campaign

The landmark Norton v. Springfield case in 2015 set a precedent that deems most panhandling laws on the books today unconstitutional. Since that time, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has worked together with its partners to get communities to repeal their anti-panhandling ordinances.

In 2018 The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty initiated the #IAskForHelpBecause campaign  to help humanize those who need to ask for help while advocating for their constitutional right to do so. The #IAskForHelpBecause campaign uses legal and organizing partners to stop the enforcement of unconstitutional panhandling ordinances and to promote more constructive approaches to addressing the hunger and homelessness that creates the need for panhandling.

We are currently looking for partners for our 2019 #IAskForHelpBecause, this year we are hoping to have partners located in all 50 states. If you would like to join this year’s campaign please reach out to Pierre Collins (

2018 marked the launch of the first #IAskForHelpBecause campaign. We initiated the campaign with a pilot project coalition of 15 partner organizations in 12 states, including ACLU affiliates in Northern California, Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The coalition’s objective was to work together in a concerted push to stop the enforcement of these unconstitutional panhandling ordinances and promote more constructive approaches to addressing the hunger and homelessness that creates the need for panhandling. On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, our partner organizations sent coordinated letters to government officials in cities where panhandling is banned to demand the repeal of such restrictions on free speech. We our partners sent letters to more than 200 cities gaining local and national press on the issue while also putting pressure on the cities to repeal without the need for litigation.

Our efforts saw success, with more than 70 cities repealing, reviewing, or readdressing their panhandling ordinances.

Thank you to our 2018 partner organizations

ACLU Northern California, Legal Services of Northern California, ACLU Colorado, Southern Legal Counsel, ACLU-Florida, Florida Legal Services, Florida Housing Umbrella Group, National Lawyers Guild South Florida Chapter, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, ACLU Illinois, ACLU Ohio, ACLU New Mexico, ACLU Iowa, ACLU Oregon, ACLU Wisconsin, ACLU Vermont, One-80 Place

Resources are being updated for the 2019 #IAskForHelpBecause campaign and will be available soon.

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Contact Info

2000 M St NW, Suite 210

Phone: 202.638.2535

Fax: 202.628.2737

Web: Homelessness Law Center

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