The city is another step closer to providing an easy way for do-gooders to give to the homeless at the expense of so-called professional panhandlers, thank to a vote Wednesday night by the City Plan Commission.
The commission uananimously approved a plan from the Traffic, Transportation and Parking Department that would allow it to install repurposed parking meters around the city.
The meters would allow people to make donations to the homeless without directly giving to people who ask for spare change on the street. (Read more about the plan and people’s reactions here).
City Plan’s positive recommendation now goes to the Board of Alders, which will hold a committee hearing before voting on the idea.
City transit chief Doug Hausladen (pictured) said aggressive panhandling has become a major concern for people who work and play downtown and the businesses that serve them.
The plan calls for installing 10 of the repurposed meters, not out on the street where one would typically find such meters and panhandlers, but in public spaces such as City Hall, and the downtown public library, in parking authority garages and at the two train stations.
In addition to the meters, which will be on “movable and securable” stanchions, the department is hoping to work with the creators of the Parkmobile app to provide donation boxes that allow people to use that phone technology to also make donations, Hausladen told commissioners.
IPS Group, which already provides parking meters for the city, has agreed to provide the donation meters at no cost. Hausladen said that IPS Group also will waive its credit and debit processing fees so that 100 percent of money donated through the meters will go to support the United Way of Greater New Haven’s Challenge to End Chronic Homelessness program.
Hausladen told commissioners that New Haven would follow in the footsteps of other cities such as Atlanta, Denver, Pasadena, Chattanooga, Orlando and Virginia Beach that have installed the meters to varying degrees of success. In 2012, IPS Group donated $25,000 to downtown San Diego.
When asked if there were plans to install more than the 10 meters, possibly in other parts of the city, Hausladen said it will depend on the success of the first 10.
City Plan Commissioner and Alder Adam Marchand asked if the city has plans to get the word out to people about alternatives to giving money to panhandlers.
Hausladen said there are plans to work with the Town Green Special Services District and other partners to educate the public through a “Give Change to Make Change” program. He said the plan is to have the meters in place by Thanksgiving.