Vouchers for panhandlers = "Real Change, Not Spare Change"?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 20:44:50 -0400


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What are your personal experiences with campaigns to give panhandlers
Vouchers instead of money?

Do you support such Voucher campaigns?  Why or why not?

Whose interest do Voucher programs serve?  Do they serve homeless people's
interests?

Have Voucher programs existed where you've been?  Who sponsored them?  How
did they fare?

For a current example of a Voucher program, see the news article below:


http://www.oregonlive.com/todaysnews/9811/st112511.html
FWD [Portland, OR] - The Oregonian - Wednesday, November 25 1998


SHOPPERS CAN GET VOUCHERS TO OFFER PANHANDLERS

Downtown retailers and businesses want the "Real Change,
Not Spare Change" program to send the needy to agencies

By Wade Nkrumah of The Oregonian staff


Downtown shoppers confronted by panhandlers during the holiday season are
being encouraged to provide "Real Change, Not Spare Change."

The term refers to a campaign to crack down on panhandling as retailers
brace for the busy and lucrative holiday shopping season. The campaign was
launched Tuesday by officials representing the city, downtown businesses
and social service agencies.

Thomas Sjostrom, chairman of Downtown Clean and Safe advisory committee for
the Association for Portland Progress, outlined the campaign and objectives
during a news conference at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

"We're providing an alternative to those who feel uncomfortable just saying
no," he said. To "give spare change to panhandlers in most cases is
counterproductive."

The Real Change campaign is a voucher program that provides access to
services for panhandlers, many of whom are homeless. The vouchers, which
will be sold in books of four for $1 a book, are an alternative to giving
people money, which tends to encourage people to panhandle rather than seek
assistance at agencies.

Panhandling, which homeless youth sometimes refer to as "spangeing," is
prevalent in and around Pioneer Courthouse Square and Portland Transit
Mall, the several blocks of Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues along which
bus lines run.

For downtown retailers and business interests, the voucher system will
serve a dual purpose. The vouchers give shoppers a chance to help those who
are down and out without feeling they need to empty their pockets. It also
would mean many of those using the vouchers would move away from primary
panhandling areas to services that, in some cases, are outside the downtown
core.

Vouchers can be redeemed for basic service and hygiene needs at Transition
Projects, meals at Sisters of the Road Cafe and basic needs for youths at
New Avenues for Youth.

Rob DeGraff, vice president for policy for Portland Progress, said the
organization tracks panhandling through its Portland Guides and Patrol
officers, downtown ambassadors who walk the streets. They offer directions
and information to visitors and shoppers -- and document panhandling.

"It's a seasonal thing," DeGraff said, "and it kind of bounces up and down."

Portland Progress doesn't know the exact number of panhandling incidents,
but he said the trend in recent years has been that the peaks and valleys
are more extreme.

"I don't think we could go so far as to say it's an unduplicated count,"
DeGraff said. "I wouldn't say it's a scientific approach."

END FORWARD
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What are your personal experiences with campaigns to give panhandlers
Vouchers instead of money?


Do you support such Voucher campaigns?  Why or why not?


Whose interest do Voucher programs serve?  Do they serve homeless
people's interests?


Have Voucher programs existed where you've been?  Who sponsored them? 
How did they fare?


For a current example of a Voucher program, see the news article
below:



http://www.oregonlive.com/todaysnews/9811/st112511.html

FWD [Portland, OR] - The Oregonian - Wednesday, November 25 1998 



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>SHOPPERS CAN GET VOUCHERS TO OFFER
PANHANDLERS 


Downtown retailers and businesses want the "Real Change,

Not Spare Change" program to send the needy to agencies 


By Wade Nkrumah of The Oregonian staff 

</paraindent>


Downtown shoppers confronted by panhandlers during the holiday season
are being encouraged to provide "Real Change, Not Spare Change." 


The term refers to a campaign to crack down on panhandling as retailers
brace for the busy and lucrative holiday shopping season. The campaign
was launched Tuesday by officials representing the city, downtown
businesses and social service agencies. 


Thomas Sjostrom, chairman of Downtown Clean and Safe advisory committee
for the Association for Portland Progress, outlined the campaign and
objectives during a news conference at Pioneer Courthouse Square. 


"We're providing an alternative to those who feel uncomfortable just
saying no," he said. To "give spare change to panhandlers in most cases
is counterproductive." 


The Real Change campaign is a voucher program that provides access to
services for panhandlers, many of whom are homeless. The vouchers,
which will be sold in books of four for $1 a book, are an alternative
to giving people money, which tends to encourage people to panhandle
rather than seek assistance at agencies. 


Panhandling, which homeless youth sometimes refer to as "spangeing," is
prevalent in and around Pioneer Courthouse Square and Portland Transit
Mall, the several blocks of Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues along
which bus lines run. 


For downtown retailers and business interests, the voucher system will
serve a dual purpose. The vouchers give shoppers a chance to help those
who are down and out without feeling they need to empty their pockets.
It also would mean many of those using the vouchers would move away
from primary panhandling areas to services that, in some cases, are
outside the downtown core. 


Vouchers can be redeemed for basic service and hygiene needs at
Transition Projects, meals at Sisters of the Road Cafe and basic needs
for youths at New Avenues for Youth. 


Rob DeGraff, vice president for policy for Portland Progress, said the
organization tracks panhandling through its Portland Guides and Patrol
officers, downtown ambassadors who walk the streets. They offer
directions and information to visitors and shoppers -- and document
panhandling. 


"It's a seasonal thing," DeGraff said, "and it kind of bounces up and
down." 


Portland Progress doesn't know the exact number of panhandling
incidents, but he said the trend in recent years has been that the
peaks and valleys are more extreme. 


"I don't think we could go so far as to say it's an unduplicated
count," DeGraff said. "I wouldn't say it's a scientific approach."


END FORWARD

- 

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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