Anchorage Cares aims to reduce panhandling on Anchorage streets, by encouraging Anchorage residents to resist the urge of handing money to panhandlers and instead donate directly to homeless service organizations.. Through support from Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd, Anchorage Economic Development Corp.’s Live. Work. Play. initiative, the Municipality of Anchorage, and Anchorage Community Development Authority, the program is run by an all volunteer group.
Panhandling presents a unique public safety hazard, as it draws people into roadways and the direct path of motor vehicles and bicycles. There are many service organizations in the municipality that provide shelter, food, medical care, substance abuse counseling and employment opportunities to homeless individuals, but those individuals often do not seek this help when they are able to receive money directly from the public by panhandling. The goal of Anchorage Cares is to provide locals with a way to donate directly toward critical services.
“A single dollar can do much more to help a struggling individual if it goes to the right organizations rather than directly to a panhandler,” said Mark Mailloux, account manager at the Chariot Group and member of the volunteer-led Live. Work. Play. Community Safety area of focus. “Moreover, handing that dollar through a car window encourages those panhandling to continue what they are doing, denying them needed services and putting them directly in harm’s way. Homelessness is a serious problem in Anchorage that requires a comprehensive look at contributing factors as well as a compassionate way to help those truly struggling.”
Anchorage Cares will launch simultaneous efforts at the municipal level to provide transitional housing for homeless residents and daily employment opportunities through direct outreach. These initiatives will give homeless individuals the tools and resources to get back on their feet, and help Anchorage residents continue their generosity toward those in need. The program will additionally work to educate the public about volunteer and involvement opportunities with organizations dedicated to creating lasting change concerning homelessness in the Anchorage community. Signs, carrying the message “Give Real Change, Not Spare Change,” will be displayed in business storefronts and at major intersections where panhandling occurs.