City Offering ‘Text Alternative’ To Reduce Panhandling

By Pat Loeb and Joe Holden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials are offering an alternative to giving panhandlers money, in the latest effort to discourage the practice.

A summer pilot project will allow people to text a donation for homeless services, instead of giving individuals money that might be used for drugs.

“Show You Care… But Not Right Here.” That’s the slogan that goes along with the new effort to reduce panhandling in Center City.

Mayor Kenney says he recognizes that most people want to help.f I have a couple extra bucks, I tend to want to give it to them but that really doesn’t help them in the end. There’s no motivation, then, to go get help.

“If I have a couple extra bucks, I tend to want to give it to them but that really doesn’t help them in the end,” said Kenney. “There’s no motivation, then, to go get help.”

So how to channel that instinct into something constructive? The Office of Homeless Services has set up a number to which donors can text the word “Share” and automatically make a $5 donation.

Director Liz Hersh says it shows up the next phone bill.

“You don’t have to stand and enter your credit card, you don’t have to get your card out,” said Hersh.

The city will match the donations and the money will go to homeless service providers but Hersh makes a distinction between panhandlers and homeless people.

“They are not necessarily one and the same, although she says a city survey shows most panhandlers fit the same demographics as those caught in the opioid crisis.

“The evidence that we see is that the money is quite likely going to be used for drugs,” said Hersh.

A big reason to use an alternative.

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