Panhandlers are growing in numbers for many reasons, not the least of which is the ease with which they can get money here in Anchorage. We are a generous city filled with generous individuals.
That’s why public education about the Change for the Better program is so important. We must educate residents, visitors, and businesses on how donations are more effective than handouts by providing specific information about what services are offered by the various social services in town.
One of the biggest hurdles to successful implementation of the Change for the Better program is convincing people that the instant gratification of giving a dollar or two to a panhandler would be better spent at the charities that operate various social service programs across the city.
It is important to stress that <strong>individuals SHOULD NOT feel bad about NOT giving money directly to panhandlers.
Will this program be effective?
According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, most researchers and practitioners seem to agree that the enforcement of laws prohibiting panhandling is only one part of controlling the problem.
Public education to discourage people from giving money to panhandlers and adequate social services are the essential components of an effective and comprehensive response.
Providing adequate social services and substance abuse treatment to reduce panhandlers’ need to panhandle has the potential to be a highly effective tool in reducing overall panhandling.
And directing the generous nature of Anchorage residents to those social service agencies which can best serve the needs of panhandlers will help ensure an effective and thorough long-term solution to the problem.
The program will work if we all work together.
This is a city-wide issue that will require a city-wide response. Working toegther, we can ensure that Change for the Better works.
We invite you to become a part of the solution along with the many other supporters and partners of Change for the Better:
- Anchorage businesses
- The Downtown Community Council
- The City of Anchorage
- The Mayor’s Offic
- The SAFECity program
- The Anchorage Police Department
- The Anchorage Responsible Beverage Retailers Association
- Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd.
- … and many others!