SALT LAKE CITY--The Downtown Alliance today unveiled a new educational campaign designed to discourage donations to panhandlers and encourage donations to local social service organizations.
Mayor Ralph Becker (Salt Lake City), Jason Mathis (executive director of the Downtown Alliance), Bill Paulos (president of The Summit Group) and Jake Boyer (chair of the Salt Lake Chamber), addressed problems associated with panhandling and presented an educational campaign to discouraged panhandling.
“The campaign is multi-year and multi-faceted,” said Jason Mathis. “Commercial solicitors have a negative impact on businesses and aggressive panhandlers intimidate patrons, employees and visitors. They detract from a dynamic environment in the Central Business District, and complicate development efforts.”
The campaign includes an informative Web site, www.endpanhandling.com, public service announcements, and signage on TRAX and FrontRunner. Additional elements will be added in coming months. As the campaign evolves, The Downtown Alliance will incorporate ideas from the community of how to support shelters, not panhandlers.
Panhandling is not an issue unique to downtown or Salt Lake City—it is a problem in communities across the Wasatch Front and across the nation. In many cases panhandlers are not homeless and often use donations to fuel addictions and other self-destructive behaviors.
But every problem has a solution. Even small donations can help to create significant programs to help people in need. Social service organizations in Salt Lake City provide services for people who find themselves in need. In the Central Business District, these organizations include Catholic Community Services, Volunteers of America, The Road Home, and the 4th Street Clinic. Instead of giving spare change to panhandlers, this campaign encourages residents and visitors to donate money or time to local organizations that are dedicated to solving problems in our community.
The campaign was developed in coordination with local service providers and is based on research conducted by the Utah program for Certified Public Management, part of the State Department of Human Resource Management.
“We are grateful for the efforts of community leaders like Glen Watkins with Jones Waldo, Vasilios Priskos with InterNet Properties who led this campaign and for Bill Paulos with the Summit Group who donated all of the creative work,” said Mathis. “This is a team effort led by and for the community.”