City Launches Effort to Curb Panhandling: "There's a Better Way"
May 6, 2015
ALBUQUERQUE - Panhandling is dangerous and usually means that an individual needs more help than pocket change. There are numerous injuries and deaths every year from people entering active roadways and traffic. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Albuquerque has a total of 217 non-fatal pedestrian involved crashes within the last 5 years. Preliminary data indicates that 2014 saw a spike in pedestrian related fatalities jumping to 27 deaths from just 7 in 2009.
“When I’m out in the community, I’m frequently asked about the rise in panhandling and people are concerned,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “People give money because they are compassionate, but don’t have the benefit of certainty to know where that money is going.”
Today the City of Albuquerque will unveil a campaign to curb panhandling, called There’s a Better Way. The goal of the campaign is to give panhandlers a chance at a change in life and provide caring members of our community with a better way to donate their money.
The current city ordinance (12-2-28) does not prohibit much of the panhandling we see each day in our city. The panhandling prohibition that existed at one time was negotiated away prior to this administration.
At multiple locations around the city, signs have been posted to encourage panhandlers to dial 311 for support from local support service providers. Panhandlers are in the streets for any number of reasons, but a call to 311 will provide an opportunity to access these services for shelter, food, or mental health.
In addition, we are calling upon members of our community to stop giving money to panhandlers. There’s a Better Way is a campaign that works in collaboration with the UnitedWay of Central New Mexico to quickly take donations at DONATEabq.org or 311. Through the online contribution or in a phone call, donations are accepted for numerous local charities that focus on caring for members of our Albuquerque community that are most in need. For example, your five dollars handed out the window has the potential to feed 20 people if you chose to donate to RoadRunner Food Bank through DONATEabq.org.
“The reality is, the gift of your spare change isn’t going to change a life. It perpetuates a panhandler’s situation. Let’s work together to end panhandling in Albuquerque. Encourage a panhandler to call 311 to get help, and direct your giving to the UnitedWay of Central New Mexico at DONATEabq.org,” added Mayor Berry.
Signage will be placed around the city where there is the highest volume of panhandling.