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Culture and Identity

SLO experiments with way to control panhandling

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The San Luis Obispo Directed Giving Campaign Committee is introducing "Change For Change" to the the city Thursday morning. It's a program designed to help the homeless community through direct donations. 

The committee, composed of members from the City of San Luis Obispo, the Downtown Association and United Way, has been working on this project for the past 18 months. Their goals are to provide public awareness regarding issues of panhandling and to raise funds to help combat homelessness. 

After researching programs like this one and their successes in other cities, the committee partnered with San Luis Obispo Parking Enforcement and IPS group, who donated seven parking meters. These meters are in the process of being installed this week.

Unlike the green and grey parking meters lining the streets of downtown, the Change For Change meters will be white with the program's logo on it. The meters will be mostly in pedestrian areas, so that people can make a distinction between the two. 

San Luis Obispo Police Chief, Keith Storton, says that the meters will allow people to give instantly. 

"They can take their credit card, they can take their extra change and they can put it into a device that's similar to a parking meter, to where they can give to local community, social service efforts," said Storton. "And those funds could be used to help people in need of transitioning out of homelessness."

  The Directed Giving Campaign Committee will monitor funds and make decisions regarding money allocation for social service efforts. Storton said that sometimes giving money to someone panhandling, particularly someone who is program resistant, is a "inefficient way to help somebody."

"If we can educate and inform and say, 'hey a couple of bucks donated to a social service entity can go much further,' and really provide the need for those people that are looking to escape homelessness and the life of living on the streets."

As of now, the program is designed as a two-year pilot program, while the committee plans on seeing how it evolves. To gather more funds for the program, local businesses can sponsor a meter. Already Copeland properties has sponsored two, the Wineman Building, LLC and Rotary Daybreak have each sponsored one.  If each meter is sponsored, the program will begin with $7,000.

Meters can be found on the following intersections in downtown San Luis Obispo:

  • Broad/Marsh 
  • Chorro/Marsh 
  • Higuera/Chorro
  • Higuera at the Downtown Center
  • Higuera/Osos
  • Higuera/Court
  • Monterey/Chorro