Orlando, Florida, is preparing to experiment with a new way of raising funds to help the homeless. Taking a novel stance, the city is getting ready to install a number of parking meters downtown, the funds from which are to be dedicated to the issues of the homeless.
Mark Schleub, a writer for The Orlando Sentinel, notes that the city has a troubled past when it comes to dealing with the population of its streets:
Orlando has drawn criticism for its treatment of the homeless in the past, including its defense of an ordinance that restricts charities’ ability to feed people in public parks. The city has also outlawed panhandling downtown after dark. During the day, panhandling is allowed only in 27 specific spots in blue boxes painted on the sidewalk.
It is near these blue boxes that most of the new “homeless meters,” as people are calling them, are to be installed. Mark Jenkins, a reporter for News 13, gives us some specifics on where the meters will be placed, and where the funds are supposed to be deployed:
Soon, you’ll find the donation meters around Lake Eola Park, the Amway Center, and along Orange Avenue, Church Street and other pedestrian-heavy areas.
The city said it plans to give the money from the meters to the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness.
No concrete plan was drawn up at Monday’s meeting on when exactly the donation meters would be operational.
It is our hope that the final disposition of these funds will be diverted to remediation programs. For one thing, that would be the most cost-effective way of combating the ongoing rise in the numbers of the homeless, and, for another, it simply makes good social sense. As more and more families find themselves out on the streets, be it because of loss of work, being caught in the mortgage meltdown, or for some other reason, we need to extend a hand. These are all human beings, with their own potential to be productive members of society, but, to do so, a hand up is in order.
Source: “New parking meters collect homeless donations – Coming soon to Orlando,” News 13, 10/19/10
Source: “Orlando OKs ‘homeless meters,’ an alternative to giving change to panhandlers,” The Orlando Sentinel, 10/19/10
Image by Katerha, used under its Creative Commons license.
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