Panhandling …Feeding …. Nuisance…. Solutions?

     This week, it’s the Downtown Development Authority complaining about the chronically homeless. 

     Last week, the downtown residents and the downtown merchants were crying foul about the homeless feeding camps taking place in downtown parks. They say the feedings are creating all sorts of problems, and they petitioned the Fort Lauderdale City Commission to move the chronic homeless out of the downtown, by designating feeding camps somewhere on the outskirts.

                                                     
                                                            The City Commission

    At this week’s meeting of the DDA, they talked about the heavy – handed panhandling that has been unnerving customers throughout the downtown streets.( To hear Brittany Wallmans’ report of the discussions, go here http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/ .)

     So everyone’s looking for solutions to this age old problem –  how about this for a start ? 

     1.) First, we need to stop the cash flow!  Develop a City Wide Program that attempts to stop folks from giving to the panhandlers. Other cities do that by locating donation meters on city streets. This way, folks can give, but the money goes towards helping the homeless, not fueling their substance problems.
 
              These converted “parking meters” dot many city’s downtown sidewalks with explanations that they are for homeless programs. Other signs ask pedestrians  “please don’t give to panhandlers”, but to feed the homeless meters instead.

     2.) Get more Homeless Social Service professionals on the streets. A portion of the homeless, even the chronically homeless, can be helped and persuaded back into society. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department  has been recognized nationally for their programs that deal with the homeless, but their resources are very limited – beef them up!

                                                                      
                                                               Cops and the Homeless

      3.) Get creative ! Start a new program that hires and trains Downtown Authority Ambassadors that can cover the streets of downtown, dressed in an official looking capacity, equipped with cell phones that merchants can call to report aggressive panhandlers. The Ambassadors can be trained to find beds for the homeless, gently encourage them to move along, or get Police to the scene quickly – if necessary.

     4.) Think comprehensively. Just pushing them off here or there will not solve the problem. Let’s become the model that other cities follow!

     5.) Remember that soon it will be warm again up north, and the problem will slow to a trickle, until next winter!

      

    

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