Some services that help Edmonton’s homeless are giving a planned provincial program to curb panhandling mixed reviews.
The program would be modelled on one in Denver where people would put money into donation receptacles that resemble parking meters.
Change inside the meters would then go to the Homeless Foundation and other support organizations like the Bissell Centre and Hope Mission.
Kelly Row, a community relations co-ordinator with Hope Mission, says the move would provide a “much-needed” revenue stream for the charity that could help it support people with addictions and mental health issues.
The move would also deter people from giving money to panhandlers.
“Every little bit helps,” said Row. “Some of these (panhandlers) are making hundreds of dollars a day.”
But Jessica Smith-Perry, a spokeswoman with the city’s Bissell Centre, says the machines should be more about helping the homeless instead of campaigning against panhandling.
A similar program was launched in Edmonton nine years ago and it was “quite a burden” for charities, she said.
Smith-Perry says homeless services was be in charge of taking the money out of the devices, and it became highly ineffective.
“Panhandling is not a public issue – aggressive panhandling is,” said Smith-Perry.