City Continues Commitment to Curb Panhandling & Connect People to Jobs
August 31, 2015
ALBUQUERQUE – On May 6, 2015 Mayor Richard J. Berry and the leadership from United Way of Central New Mexico unveiled a new initiative to help curb panhandling by offering “A Better Way” to help those in need. At the time, 15 blue signs were posted around the city to encourage panhandlers to dial 311 to be connected to support from local service providers. When calls started coming in, many were in support of the signs and to request more. The city heard the community’s request and has since expanded the signage to a current total of 33 signs.
To date, the program has connected over 2,200 people with the city’s 311 center. Of that 2,200, 93% of the callers are requesting to be connected to services, many services they may not have known about previously. Additionally, the program has collected over $1,680 through United Way of Central New Mexico which has been directly distributed to local service providers.
Today, to build upon the program’s success, Mayor Berry is unveiling the “There’s a Better Way” Van. In partnership with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the van will circulate throughout the city and offer panhandlers a job for the day. The van will transport individuals to a job site under the supervision of the City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Department, to do work such as landscape beautification in designated areas to earn a day’s pay. At the end of the workday, the workers will receive their pay from St. Martin’s and be transported back to St. Martin’s so they can get connected with an emergency shelter to house them overnight as needed or available.
“Back in May, we initiated a first step to curb panhandling in Albuquerque by connecting panhandlers to services and offering an alternative – and far more impactful – solution to those giving money. I am extremely grateful to our community who has stepped up to make this first phase a success” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “Today, we are taking this initiative one step further to give those panhandling an opportunity to earn a day’s wage while providing a valuable service to our community.”
To donate please call 311 or visit DonateABQ.org.