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STORY BY CAMILLE WINNIE

To Give or Not to Give?

C

ontrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one in the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless. It is difficult to refuse when approached by a panhandler with a compelling story and you are not sure what to do. A good response is simply, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash.” Make it a point to acknowledge the person who is asking and smile, but keep walking. Confronting panhandlers can lead to other more serious problems. Panhandlers may become aggressive if challenged and conversations can give panhandlers more opportunities to ask for money. If a panhandler follows you, touches you, makes threatening or violent gestures, blocks your path or engages in any behavior that makes you feel threatened or unsafe, immediately call the police to report it. If you encounter a panhandler that you believe is truly in need of immediate services, contact the HOST hotline at 801-799-3035. People don’t panhandle their way out of homelessness, and the chances that you are supporting destructive behaviors and drug-related crime is high when you give cash directly to someone that is panhandling. There are many organizations that provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, job search assistance and other social services to those that are in need.

waste and to ensure that those that need these items can access them year-round. You can make a financial contribution online at slchost.org or donate spare change at one of the 40 red HOST parking meters around downtown Salt Lake City. All donations go to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, which donates 100 percent of funds to local homeless service providers. Catholic Community Services

www.ccsutah.org/programs Crossroads Urban Center

www.crossroadsurbancenter.org Fourth Street Clinic

www.fourthstreetclinic.org Rescue Mission of Salt Lake

www.rescuesaltlake.org The Road Home

www.theroadhome.org Volunteers of America

www.voaut.org/services

Visit slchost.org to learn more or to make a contribution. I

HOST parking meters allow people to donate money to the homeless without handing out cash to panhandlers.

How You Can Help Instead of giving money to panhandlers, consider making a donation to a homeless service provider who provides needed services 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You will feel confident that you are doing your part to help the homeless and that your resources are being used to help people who are truly in need. Then you can know you've given without supporting negative behaviors that keep people trapped in crisis. Local homeless service providers: You can also donate non-perishable food items, pillows, clothes, socks, gloves, hats, shoes, toiletries, hygiene kits, towels, sleeping bags, school supplies and cleaning supplies, etc. It is best to give these items to the service providers for distribution rather than handing them out on the street to avoid spring / summer 2017

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Downtown Magazine - Spring/Summer 2017  
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