DENVER - A controversial approach by the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming to panhandling had us wondering if the city of Denver still discourages folks from giving to panhandlers.
If you missed it, Cheyenne Police posted a photo on Facebook this week following the arrest of a drunk man who was panhandling. The photo displayed the $234 he had collected from panhandling and warned the public to give to charity instead of panhandlers.
Bennie Millner, leader of Denver’s Road Home, told Next with Kyle Clark he wouldn’t go that far. But he still encourages people to donate to Denver’s Road Home rather than panhandlers. The program helps the homeless find permanent housing.
“We think that there are better ways to give,” Millner said.
“You can't stop people from giving,” he said. “Sometimes you see a situation that just tugs at your heart and so you just feel compelled to do it but, as an overall strategy, we wouldn't like to see it.”
You may have seen Denver’s Road Home parking meters around town that allow people to deposit change or use their credit cards to make a donation. Now the agency takes donations via text messages by sending “HOMELESSHELP” to 41444.
There are some critics of the city’s approach, namely the ACLU.
“People are free to ask for help and to respond to that in any way they want,” said Nathan Woodliffe-Stanley, ACLU Colorado’s executive director.
The ACLU also expressed concern about homeless donations to the city after an incident last year when a report revealed a money from the fund that includes donations helped fund the sweeps of homeless from Denver’s sidewalks.
“In retrospect, it was seen that maybe it wasn't the best decision. And in a week it was corrected,” Millner said.
Denver’s Road Home said the fund used included mostly federal grants and only a small portion of donations. Since that error, they’ve separated the funds.
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