New anti-panhandling program provides a better way to offer change

Folks in Fort Worth have big hearts, and whenever someone asks for a helping hand, we’re likely to give it to them. But when it comes to panhandling on city streets, handing over spare change is a bad idea.

Panhandling violates a Fort Worth city ordinance, encourages a transient way of life and negatively affects public safety and quality of life. In 2017, Fort Worth Police issued 691 citations for soliciting contributions in the street, 210 citations for aggressive panhandling in a prohibited area and 47 citations for soliciting donations.

A coalition of community partners — representing government, the business community and social service agencies — has a new solution. While many panhandling programs go after the panhandlers, this new program is about educating the people who give money. This will allow them to donate to a fund that will help those in need.

Residents who are willing to help can text FWCHANGE to 41444 and their donations will benefit the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition. The donated funds will help provide housing-related services such as application fees and security deposits; bus tickets; motel vouchers for families; and mattresses.

Community partners will work with businesses and organizations to help educate residents and visitors about the program. The city is asking residents and organizations to help spread the word about the new program. Information is free to download on the city’s website.

A community conference on homelessness is planned for 9 a.m.-noon June 30 at University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Drive. Workshops will cover effective giving, how to get involved and housing opportunities. The goal is to educate the public and to redirect charitable efforts to be more effective.

Register for the conference.

To learn more, contact Tara Perez at 817-392-2235.

leverton

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