Mike wrote a great summary of the current plan to end panhandling.
Then: Panhandling is protected free speech under the first amendment
Now: Panhandling is protected free speech under the first amendment
Then: If someone is aggressively panhandling, threatening, or otherwise breaking the law, call 911
Now: If someone is aggressively panhandling, threatening, or otherwise breaking the law, call 911
Then: If someone is passively panhandling, and should be referred for services, call First Call for Help
Now: If someone is passively panhandling, and should be referred for services, call DPW Customer Service
Then: Nothing comes between us and our tag days
Now: Nothing comes between us and our tag days
Then: “Several local social service agencies … are collaborating on an interagency service response plan to support the solution via outreach to the individuals who panhandle.”
Now: SMOC will provide an “outreach worker [who] will comb city streets, sidewalks, parks, bridges, etc. during both business and non-business hours to assist individuals engaged in panhandling who my be in need of services.” In addition, “the outreach worker will work collaboratively with the Worcester Police in cases where panhandling interferes with public safety or any other potential criminal activity is identified. … The Worcester Police will dedicate a liaison to work with the outreach worker as needed.”
[Aside: when the panhandlers find out that the outreach worker’s primary city contact is the WPD, and that the outreach worker would work hand-in-hand with the WPD, I wonder what reason they will have to trust the outreach worker.]
Then: A public education campaign to discourage residents from giving money to panhandlers and to encourage them to give to social service agencies. This included a one-page flyer in excise tax bills, followed by “print and broadcast media coverage, billboards, posters, street sign postings, … and bus placard advertisements.
Now: A public education campaign to discourage residents from giving money to panhandlers and to encourage them to give to social service agencies. “This multi-faceted campaign would include radio, print, broadcast, web-based, social media, signage, billboards, buses, informational sessions, and more.”
[Aside: Facebook for the win!]
Reminder: The current plan to end panhandling — which should not be confused with the previous plan to end panhandling — will be discussed at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The meeting will be at 6:00pm in the Esther Howland Chamber at City Hall. If you care about this, you need to email your City Councilors or show up at the meeting.
I will be writing more about this in the coming days (and weeks and months). But you need to do your part and let the Council know how you feel about a recycled plan that didn’t work seven years ago.