The Central West End Association and the City of St. Louis have announced the launch of the “Real Change” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to discourage the random giving of money to panhandlers while encouraging contributions to local social service providers. The campaign is conjunction with a new city ordinance restricting panhandling.100% of donations will go to agencies that provide much needed services including basic needs, substance abuse treatment and job training.
Parking meters donated by the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office have been installed at four locations in the Central West End. These meters will be used to collect change that will be distributed to area service providers. In addition, neighborhood businesses will distribute cards informing residents and visitors of the campaign and encouraging participation in “real change.”
Alderman Lyda Krewson, who introduced the legislation making it tougher to panhandle in the City, said, “This campaign is about making people aware that giving money directly to panhandlers is not helpful to the individual and perpetuates the problem.”
St. Louis Treasurer Larry Williams, whose office donated the parking meters, said, “We’re pleased to play a role in helping to curb panhandling.”
National studies show panhandlers often commit other crimes, such as breaking into cars, urinating in public, disorderly conduct, purse snatchings and robberies. According to neighborhood beat officers, a significant number of calls for police service in the Central West End concern the same people who are panhandling.
“The majority of panhandlers in the Central West End are not homeless,”
said Tricia Roland-Hamilton, president of the Central West End Association. “Many of them can be aggressive and threatening at times.”
The ordinance prohibits panhandling at night, near bus stops, at outdoor cafe’s, inside businesses, and near banks and ATM’s. Aggressive panhandling, which would include blocking a person’s way or continuing to beg after a person says no, is also banned.
How can you help?
‘Say No to Panhandlers’…Put your change in the Real Change Meter or mail to:
CWEA/Real Change 4814 suite 302 Washington, St. Louis, MO 63108.