City staff in Davis hope to launch an educational campaign about aiding panhandlers in the city.
Davis has historically had a steady homeless population of about 120 in the city. However, in the last six to seven months, that number has increased, and so have the complaints. Many are notifying authorities about their loitering and aggressive behavior.
A City Staff Report indicates there are four reasons for the sudden increase in the number of panhandlers on the streets- economy, helpful services in Davis, reduction of services in surrounding cities, and Davis’ reputation as a generous and safe community.
Many people Fox 40 interviewed said they do give cash to panhandlers.
“I do, I didn’t use to, but I do,” Ken Roberts, longtime Davis resident, said. “But you know, I walk a mile in somebody’s shoes sometimes and I’m sure its a different sort of situation.”
“I usually don’t pay them unless they have some compelling reason, or they have a creative sign,” John Schreiber, Davis resident, said. “There is more of a college population, and they may be more likely to give.”
To mitigate the problem, the city wants to launch a campaign that teaches people not to give money directly to panhandlers. Rather, they encourage them to donate their money to local organizations that directly aid the \homeless.
“It suggests people to give to organizations that provide mental health services, food, other types of services that are more positive,” Bill Pride, Executive Director of Davis Community Meals, said.
For those who still feel compelled to hand out cash, Pride reminded that often times, money given is used for drugs or alcohol.
“It’s a choice of helping yourself or helping them,” Pride said. “If you really want to help them, you are probably going to give it somewhere else.”