Restricting begging, outdoor feeding, paper vending "helps"

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 04:41:29 -0400


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Proponents of limits on panhandling, outdoor free meal programs and
newspaper vending claim such restrictions aim to help "homeless people".

Do you agree?  Why or why not?

What's your opinion about "who" such restrictions aim to help?

For a case in point, see the article below:


http://www.azstarnet.com/public/dnews/126-6173.html
FWD  Arizona Daily Star - Monday, 16 November 1998

  CITY LOOKS FOR "INTELLIGENT, REALISTIC' WAYS TO AID HOMELESS
  By Jill Jorden Spitz

Transforming the Toole Avenue Homeless Facility from a meals program to a
jobs program isn't the only way the city is dealing with homelessness in
Tucson.

Several other programs and ideas are in the works. ``The city is making a
more intelligent, coherent, realistic appraisal of how to understand the
problem,'' said Councilman Steve Leal.

Among the initiatives:

* Discouraging churches and other groups from serving meals in downtown parks.

Neighbors have complained the impromptu soup kitchens attract homeless
people to their parks and hurt their neighborhood quality of life.

* Considering the elimination of newspaper sales and begging in street medians.

Several people have been hit by cars while in the median, and two of them died.

Rather than selling papers in streets, hawkers would move to such
high-traffic locations as shopping malls, office buildings and churches.

* Shutting down large homeless camps.

* Seeking additional federal grants for transitional and permanent housing.

* Increasing services on North Fourth Avenue.

Our Town Family Services, which works with homeless and runaway teens and
young adults, recently won a three-year, $100,000-a-year federal street
outreach grant to help young people on North Fourth Avenue.

The program will continue a city-funded pilot project this spring, during
which social workers
from Our Town and Open Inn interviewed homeless teens.

In three months, workers interviewed more than 500 young people. Of those,
half were living in
Tucson, rather than just passing through, and 65 percent were homeless more
than six months - most for one to two years.

Most of the young people - 61 percent - were ages 18 to 25. Twenty-five
percent were between 12 and 17 years old, 13 percent were older than 26 and
1 percent were younger than 12.

During the pilot program, two teens entered long-term shelters, two were
reunited with their
families, and many accepted health care, education, food or other help.

Most of the young people said they weren't interested in getting off the
streets, but that's
to be expected after the limited contact of an initial interview, said
Kevin Jackson, Our Town's street outreach coordinator.

``It takes a lengthy period of time to create rapport,'' he said.

Plus, he said, ``some of them are in the best situation they've been in,
and that's pretty tragic.''

As part of the new grant program, at least two social workers will be on
North Fourth Avenue four to six evenings per week. Besides offering help,
social workers tell newcomers about laws banning aggressive panhandling and
sitting or lying on sidewalks.

END FORWARD
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