City council objects to lack of detail in proposed panhandling initiative

The City of Dallas is considering new panhandling initiatives. Demond Fernandez has more.

DALLAS - DALLAS – The streets of Dallas are becoming hot spots for panhandling, according to police and some city leaders. Homeless service providers estimate some panhandlers are bringing in between $40 to $70 per hour on any given day.

That is why Dallas city council members say they want to take a serious look at some possible solutions.

A group called Neighborhood Plus is proposing a Panhandling Initiative that could use $100,000 from the City’s Housing and Community Services budget to get some homeless panhandlers off the streets through day labor.

Alan Sims, Chief of Neighborhood Plus, described how sub-contractors are operating the program successfully in cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Vans go around, if you saw people on the streets, ask them if they wanted to go to work," Sims said. "Put them to work doing different types of manual labor, and at the end of the day pay them.”

The two-pronged pilot program also suggests the city post signs in hot spots, encouraging panhandlers to call 311 for resources and discouraging the public from giving money to people on the streets.

Phase two could get the solid waste department to consider using a van to pick up panhandlers as day laborers. It could pay them about $9 an hour for projects like landscaping and garbage removal.

City Council Member Adam McGough voiced concern, at one point.

“I don’t have enough right now to say we need to go with step 1, step 2, step 3 and how we are doing it,” he said.

Foggy details about the group’s four months of research frustrated a couple of council members during the briefing. They wanted specifics about how successful the panhandling initiative has been in other cities. However, the presenters came up a bit short.

Council member Tiffinni Young criticized that team.

“We spent four months to do Google searches?,” she asked rhetorically. “We haven’t talked to anyone in any cities? We don’t know what’s working? We don’t know what’s not working…That’s a problem.”

All sides agree something needs to be done to crack down on panhandling. Moving forward the details are going to need some fine-tuning.

The City of Dallas reports responding to more than 550 service requests for panhandling since October of last year.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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