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May 20. 2013 4:59PM

Helping panhandlers: A method worth trying in Manchester

Manchester has a panhandler problem, and Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long has a potential solution: parking meters. Aldermen should give this one the green light.

Long has tried to come up with a way to discourage panhandlers in his downtown ward while providing the homeless with some aid. Tonight the board votes on his proposal to install old parking meters at downtown locations where panhandling has been a problem and dedicate the donated change to New Horizons shelter.

The meters would be painted and marked as donation collection locations for New Horizons (or whatever charity ultimately is used). People would be encouraged to put spare change into the meters instead of giving it to beggars (who sometimes are not non-homeless drug addicts).

This is a creative way for the city to facilitate transactions that will actually help the homeless while simultaneously discouraging panhandling. Instead of having the cash go directly to people who would spend it unwisely, it will go to a non-profit with a long track record of helping the homeless not only get a meal and a place to stay, but learn behaviors that might get them off the street permanently. Other cities report some success with it, and it certainly is worth a try in Manchester.


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