Manchester 'homeless meter' program seeks to deter panhandling
The proposal to install the meters was submitted earlier this month by Manchester Aldermen Pat Long, Ward 3, to the city’s Committee on Traffic. In the plan the devices are termed “Spare Change Meters.” They are repurposed coin-operated parking meters set up to collect donations for designated nonprofit organizations.
Long said he would like to see five or six of the city’s old parking meters installed in some of the most heavily panhandled areas of Manchester, including Elm Street. Money deposited in the meters would go directly to organizations that help the homeless. The goal, Long said, is to reduce panhandling and educate business owners and residents about the problem of giving money directly to people on the streets.
• The locations for the meters be determined by the Parking Division and Highway Department
• All donations received after the $260 threshold is achieved would benefit the organization New Horizons.
“We would paint (the meters ) a new color, maybe red or blue, so they stand out from the ‘Pay and Display’ parking meters,” said Long. “They would be clearly labeled to say what group would benefit from any donations made.”
“We’re already hearing from some business owners, especially in the downtown area, about aggressive behavior shown by panhandlers,” said Manchester Police Chief David Mara. “A lot of the people we recognize as people who are not homeless. People give them cash, and they are feeding their addictions to alcohol or drugs.”
The Manchester Police Department Community Policing Unit will soon begin increased visibility patrols downtown during the work week lunch time frame. Community police will also meet one-on-one with downtown business and property owners to discuss panhandling and other downtown quality-of-life issues. Mara said during these visits his department will conduct a survey to determine the effect of panhandling on Manchester businesses.
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