In DeLand, Florida, officials have come up with a novel solution to address both the problem of homelessness and panhandling at dangerous intersections. The city, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Transportation, will put up signs that encourage drivers to donate indirectly to the local homeless population.
Panhandling has long been an issue in DeLand, with city spokesman Chris Graham pointing out that it has led to accidents and injuries, both for the panhandlers themselves and for drivers who try to help them. Graham explained, “When you think about it, a Girl Scout is panhandling. It’s just not safe to do it at these intersections.”
To address this problem, the new signs will go up at intersections and on store windows throughout shopping centers. Rather than reminding people of the illegality of panhandling, the signs will provide information about the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, where people can make donations.
The center, an all-inclusive shelter, houses up to 200 individuals at any given time and has one of the largest food pantries in central Florida, helping to provide food to the region’s hungry. The Neighborhood Center is well equipped to handle the influx of donations that will come from the new panhandler donation campaign, according to Savannah-Jane Griffin, the center’s CEO. She noted that the need for services has been growing steadily in recent years.
By providing an alternative to giving directly to panhandlers, officials hope to give people a safer and more effective way to help the homeless population in DeLand. The signs will feature large QR codes that can be scanned by donors, which will take them directly to the donation site.
Graham emphasized the need for communities to work together to find solutions to homelessness, recognizing that it is an issue faced by many communities across Central Florida. By giving people a safe and direct way to donate to those in need, the city of DeLand hopes to address the issue of panhandling while providing tangible support to its homeless population.