- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) - An initiative launched in Albuquerque hopes to steer panhandlers to services rather than the streets.

Mayor Richard Berry unveiled a new effort Wednesday, “There’s a Better Way,” that focuses on getting panhandlers the help they need and informing drivers of a website they can reach that will provide the help, The Albuquerque Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1dQHZ2z ).

A major part of the campaign is a partnership with The United Way of Central New Mexico, which manages the website, donateabq.org, that allows people to donate to programs that provide services to the poor.

“We’re telling people we love your compassion, we love your heart and sincerity, but use this website and do this in a better way,” Berry said. Instead of giving money to one individual on the street, donors will be able to go online and give to a specific program that helps many people, he said.

But, some panhandlers in the city say they are doing just fine by getting money or food directly from drivers.

“Look, some homeless people won’t use the services offered by the city because you can better take care of yourself without those services if you have a little money,” said Brandon Blue, a 25-year-old man who sat along a frontage road holding a sign that read: “Homeless please help.”

Signs will be posted around the city offering panhandlers a number to a hotline they can call that will direct them to shelters, food and programs for substance abuse and mental health problems.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com


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