Waco launches anti-panhandling campaign
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In Waco, a local effort has reduced the homeless population significantly over the last six years. Now, they're taking the campaign a step further.
Called “Spare Change Doesn't Equal Real Change,” city leaders hope to reduce the problem of panhandling in the newly-revitalized downtown.
The program is designed to help people like Cindy Lea, who never expected to be homeless.
"The house got foreclosed, lost my job, car got repossessed. It's the typical story," she said. "I'm halfway on the way to making it, but I still need cash on the way to get to there."
At the city of Waco, Teri Holtkamp helps find housing for people. She said panhandling isn’t typical of the city’s “chronic homeless” population.
"A panhandler is looking to really subsidize a habit of some sort," she said.
Which is the reason for the spare change program—instead of giving money as a short-term solution, city officials provide homeless people cards of information on free meals, shelters and other social services to help get them through.
Still, the program doesn’t discourage giving.
"But give responsibly. Give to a charity. Give to where you know exactly where that money is going," Holtkamp said.
Click here for more information on the program.