Manchester Settles Panhandling Lawsuit for $89K

Dec 4, 2017

The city of Manchester has paid $89,000 to settle a lawsuit over the city’s panhandling policies.

In 2015 Theresa Petrello was homeless and panhandled in Manchester to survive. She was cited by police for disorderly conduct through a city ordinance meant to discourage panhandling. A federal court ruled that ordinance unconstitutional earlier this year.

Gilles Bissonette of the ACLU-NH is one of the attorneys who represented Petrello in the lawsuit. 

“It’s a victory for free speech and it acknowledges that cities and towns can’t criminalize poverty in violation of the first amendment," Bissonette said Monday.

Since the September ruling, the cities of Somersworth, Rochester and Concord have stopped enforcing similar anti-panhandling ordinances. 

Petrello still lives in Manchester and hopes to use the settlement money to secure permanent housing.