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Introducing There’s A Better Way 3.0

City Looks to Address the Root Cause of Panhandling on Street Corners

December 16, 2016

Albuquerque, NM - On the heels of a national study that shows Albuquerque has significantly reduced  the number of people experiencing homelessness, Mayor Richard J. Berry has announced phase three of There’s A Better Way panhandling initiative. Phase three, called There’s A Better Way 3.0, creates teams of professionals who will work directly with panhandlers to evaluate their individual circumstances and identify ways to connect them to the services and resources they need to break the cycle of panhandling and homelessness. Mayor Berry directed Family and Community Services, St Martin’s, AFD and APD to form a Citizens At Risk Evaluators (C.A.R.E.) Team to meet with panhandlers on the corners where they are standing to listen, learn and better understand each person's situation and to then craft solutions for them, such as connections to family, shelter, work or case management.
 
The C.A.R.E. Team consists of five non-uniformed professionals: an APD Crisis Intervention and Support Team (COAST) member, an APD Crisis Intervention Team Unit member, an AFD paramedic, a St. Martins Hospitality Center representative, and a facilitator from the Family and Community Services. The Family and Community Services Department provided an unused 15 passenger, 2011, Ford E-350 XL Van to be used by the C.A.R.E. Team when reaching out to individuals. There’s a Better Way 3.0 will operate on a $260,000 budget.
 
"We know There is a Better Way than standing on a street corner begging for money and we know we can change lives through the dignity of work," said Mayor Berry. "Now we are taking the next step to reach people where they are, to find individual solutions for them," he added.  
 
There's a Better Way started in May 2015 with 15 signs posted at intersections throughout Albuquerque giving drivers an alternative way to donate and panhandlers information to get connected to services. In September 2015 Mayor Berry introduced There’s A Better Way 2.0 where the city partnered with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center to drive around, the city and hire panhandlers for day- long beautification projects such as pulling weeds and picking up trash. Since that launch, the initiative has been a success with wide spread success, garnering international attention and inspiring similar programs in Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Tucson, Seattle and others.

Through the end of November 2016, There’s A Better Way has produced the following statistics:
 
• 1,240 day labor jobs have been given, resulting in cleanup at 317 city blocks with 109,101  pounds of litter and weeds being removed
 • Over 13,000 times, people have been connected to services they may not have known about previously, 193 people have been introduced and connected to permanent employment opportunities, 20 are in housing, 145 are engaged with mental health services and substance abuse programs.
• The program has received over 12,272 calls with 95% of those calls looking to be connected to resources.
• Total donations to date: $58,211.
 
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For more information on homeless services available in the City please visit cabq.gov or call 311, TTY 711. Or, to donate to the program please visit DONATEabq.org.