New ordinance bans homeless tents and restricts panhandlers

The eyes of Kenneth Grubbs have gazed upon the world for 51 years and seen plenty of hardship--cruelty on the street, the inside of a prison.

At least there, he says, fundamental needs were met.

"I don't care how bad you is or who you done killed, no matter what you've done they are going to give you that, ain't they? You get some food out you are going to able to rest your body, so you can get ready for the next day right? You need that," said Grubbs.

While these days Grubbs finds refuge in shelters, others choose the open Houston air, collecting in tent towns beneath the concrete shield of an overpass.

"We're dealing with people, we're not dealing  with potholes, we are dealing with people," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

They are homeless citizens Turner says will have to find a different way.

An ordinance passed Wednesday by city council bans tents and the cooking grills and clutter that come with them. 

Turner is pledging plenty of assistance for the soon-to-be-displaced.

"It's not a heavy-handed approach where all of a sudden the police are showing up and they didn't know anything about it and all of a sudden we are taking your tents. We are not trying to be heavy-handed," said Turner.

In addition to outlawing tent encampments, city council put new pressure on panhandlers, barring them immediately from soliciting money from medians.

"Meaningful change, not spare change, because the best way to handle the panhandling issue is not to give," said Turner.

It's a new restriction with plenty of popular support.

"So as soon as I come up on one, my doors are locked because you never know what they are capable of or what their thoughts are," said resident Natalie Viegas.

"I think that will be good to get them off the street and maybe into shelters if they need to be there," added Sherri Brenner.

The homeless have until May 12 to take down their tents and take up the mayor on his offer of shelter.