The city of Wilmington is hoping to make a change by installing new yellow parking meters downtown. Believe it or not, it’s part of an effort to fight homelessness.
“We want to see a reduction in panhandling, but we also want to see the ultimate goal of a reduction in chronic homelessness. Moving people into transitional and ultimately permanent housing,” said John Hinnant, Director of Wilmington Downtown, Inc.
By making a donation to one of these meters, you’re becoming part of the solution by giving money to the agencies that can help. Every quarter will go directly to benefit homeless people in Wilmington. City officials say with the new meters, there’s no excuse to say yes to panhandling.
“The public, who has being panhandled, has the ability to say no in good conscience, and the panhandlers learn that these areas are no longer friendly environments for seeking contributions,” Hinnant said.
Saying no to panhandlers is key to the success of this plan. For those of us who have a hard time saying no, Residents of Old Wilmington’s Kevin O’Grady has some advice. “The answer is no, and its an assertive, no! And generally, the panhandlers will leave you alone if you are assertive in your no. And you should be, you shouldn’t feel guilty, its not a good thing to contribute to.”
Five meters will be installed downtown this week, and up to twenty will pop up across the area in the next two years. The plan is to reduce overall panhandling in the Port City by as much as 80% in the next year.
Make a Change is looking for sponsors of the meters. For more information, visit www.CapeFearHomeless.org.
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