A recent street count in metropolitan Phoenix shows a continued rise in homelessness – a 22 percent increase over last year. Along with that, the public has seen various activities that may be related to homelessness rise, including sleeping in public places, littering and panhandling.
City staff are working to direct those in need to appropriate resources while accommodating citizens' concerns about excessive panhandling and related issues.
The most visible sign of that work will hit city streets this week, when temporary signs will be placed at "high volume" panhandling intersections in Scottsdale. The signs encourage the public to donate to social service agencies rather than giving to individuals asking for money.
While handing money to someone may feel good in the moment, donating dollars instead to social service agencies that help those in need is a more effective way to address the root causes of homelessness and panhandling.
The city also discourages panhandling (which is not illegal) because of the safety hazards associated with it. Panhandlers may distract drivers or obstruct views, and put themselves at risk alongside busy roadways.
In addition to the temporary signs, which will be moved as needed to areas where panhandling is prevalent, city staff are distributing community resource cards to people experiencing homelessness and helping those individuals with access to social workers and job training specialists.
In Fiscal Year 2018/19, the City Council approved nearly $769,000 to support 18 nonprofit agencies working to address various aspects of homelessness, including support for regional shelters. This is in addition to the direct services provided by city of Scottsdale social workers and agencies located at city human services facilities (such as Vista del Camino).
The city has developed a resource page for residents and others seeking more information about this challenging topic. Visit the site and search “panhandling” to find links to social service agencies and programs along with legal information relating to homelessness and panhandling.
The city remains a committed partner, working with state and federal governments, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and compassionate, committed citizens to improve the lives of those in these difficult situations.