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Archive for Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Curbing panhandlers

Creative strategies that could encourage donations to social service agencies instead of panhandlers deserve a look.

April 7, 2010

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Plans for a new center at the eastern edge of Lawrence to serve the community’s homeless population appear to be moving ahead. However, even if that center becomes a reality, homeless advocates acknowledge it is unlikely to eliminate the issue of panhandlers in downtown Lawrence.

To better address what has become a perennial problem along Massachusetts Street, downtown Lawrence merchants have asked city officials to consider a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging downtown patrons to give money to social service agencies that serve homeless people rather than to panhandlers. It’s a creative approach that has been tried elsewhere and might work here.

The most obvious deterrent to panhandling is that it quits working, that people simply don’t give money to panhandlers. The idea of the marketing campaign is to give people who want to help the homeless population other options. One idea is to place signs and posters downtown reminding people that it’s better to give to social service agencies than to panhandlers. Some sort of donation boxes could be placed downtown for people who want to make such a gift. Merchants also might distribute cards listing agencies that help the homeless that downtown patrons can give to panhandlers instead of cash.

None of these options may be particularly pleasing to the panhandlers, but that’s OK. The inability to raise funds on the street may encourage more people to seek help. Those who don’t want that help can continue to take advantage of meal programs downtown but might give up on combing downtown sidewalks asking for change.

Lawrence is a generous community that continues to offer many services to the homeless. It’s not hardhearted to funnel money to agencies that can put it to good use to aid the homeless population. It’s a practical approach that could have the positive side-effect of diminishing a panhandling problem that is of continuing concern to downtown businesses and customers.

Comments

blue73harley 4 years ago

Is Mel Tillis in the house?

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

The need to be thanked--not something to saddle a complete stranger with. Take your problems out on your "loved" ones if you must trash someone and project your issues on the world.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

The need to be thanked--not something to saddle a complete stranger with. Take your problems out on your "loved" ones if you must trash someone and project your issues on the world.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

Your need to be thanked--not something to saddle a complete stranger with. Take your problems out on your "loved" ones if you must trash someone and project your issues on the world.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

Your need to be thanked--not something to saddle a complete stranger with. Take your problems out on your "loved" ones if you must trash someone and project your issues on the world.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

Your need to be thanked--not something to saddle a complete stranger with. Take your problems out on your "loved" ones if you must trash someone and project your issues on the world.

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equalaccessprivacy 4 years ago

I sure wish KU students themselves could be better taught not to solicit strangers based off offensive stereotypes. What makes Lawrence unpleasant is the narrow line between "helping" and "harassing" here and the large number of people who don't know the difference or how to respect others' boundaries. Many people are sentimentally in love with the idea of being helpful, but have not been made to realize this actually takes competence and understanding as well as good intentions. To approach strangers using bad judgment by suggesting they are so needy they would welcome a potentially dangerous interaction with a complete stranger is both foolhardy and insulting,expressing more a need to be than any legitimate reason to violate/insinuate yourself upon a stranger who is simply minding their own business and likely hopes you'll simply do the same.

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geekin_topekan 4 years ago

Sure thing Mac.

Write when you get there.

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uncleandyt 4 years ago

Yesterday some stranger asked me if I had any spare change. I lied to that stranger when I said "No". I went on with my day. He went on with his. Later, some stranger in a yellow shirt left an envelope on my windshield demanding $3.00. I had a certain amount of time to pay up or face late fees. The city is the aggressive panhandler.

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MacHeath 4 years ago

How about a bottle of Vodka, and a bus ticket to Florida?

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couranna1 4 years ago

you will never stop they will just get more obnoxious with their begging Look at the Salvation Army and their begging {kettles} they even did it in summer the losers stop them

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EARTHFIRSTER 4 years ago

LINK serves Lawrence in a divinely inspired effort to combat hunger. Homelessness will happen in any city and at any time of year. Families and individuals may become homeless for a variety of reasons. Panhandling is a sport.

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James Roper 4 years ago

Odd there is no discernment between aggressive panhandling and the mere "spare change, man?" variety, at least not in this (yet another) well-reasoned LJW opinion piece.

Far as I know, most panhandling is "curbed" already, or sidewalked for that matter. What is the issue here? That we want our public sphere to become even more regulated and controlled? Where are the "conservatives" now?

Fine. But while yer at it, politely channeling the inconvenient and unsightly away from consciousness, please also eliminate billboards, sidewalk chalking, the Phelps clan, audible public conversation, and any other erstwhile protected speech with which you disagree.

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Moderateguy 4 years ago

Great idea consumer1! Brilliant bit of problem seeking. Let's get the ACLU working on that and use one of their own weapons against them! If the ACLU won't allow us to institute a no panhandling policy downtown, how can they be complaisant to one on Campus?

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consumer1 4 years ago

As a matter of fact, I work with many of these homeless panhandlers. I am going to start advising them to go to campus events. Basketball games, football games. Even go on campus, I will tell them that is where the easy money is. Downtown will be clear and free of panhandlers then. Thanks MadameX

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consumer1 4 years ago

No solicitation policy on campus???? Well, we need to remedy that. If ku students can vote in local elections deteremining policy on the city streets, it seems they should first clean up their own back yards. Allow these panhandlers to comb over campus. That is the answer to the downtown problem. Change policy on campus from being so "hateful" to more loving and generous. When we talk about the problem of panhandling downtown, and the local population tries to resolve it, ku student's always pop up and call the town hateful, because we don't endorse enabling of the bums. So, open campus to free trade...

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madameX 4 years ago

Keith - because I'm pretty sure there's a "no solicitation" policy on KU's campus.

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geekin_topekan 4 years ago

Too far to walk and ample business downtown.

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Keith 4 years ago

If students are the preferred 'hit' of the panhandlers, why aren't the panhandlers up at KU? The 'mark' population is denser there than downtown.

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geekin_topekan 4 years ago

Cool cool.

Dig> The lifestyle homeless population will become even more visible because rather than hangout at the drop in center they now have to resort to public areas such as the library, parks and Mass st..

The program members of the new shelter will not be seen because they will be working or looking for work as they always have been. These are the invisible homeless that are actually doing something about their situation, which is the mission of the new shelter. What this proposal is addressing is the wino population. They aren't going anywhere.

Students are the preferred 'hit' for a panhandler. They are inexperienced, naive and generally eager to help another human. Why don't the downtown merchants spend a little money and create an insert for the New Student Orientation, that addresses their grief and provide the new comers with appropriate actions to take when confronted by a panhandler or street musician begging for money. This will kill two birds because it will be aimed at the panhandlers' preferred customer before hand AND this community member may look at the merchants as a group that is taking the reigns, instead of a whining bunch of socialists who look to the government to extend itself for the sole purpose of fitting the city to their needs.

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