“Support panhandling, and you support drug trafficking, crime, and alcoholism.”
If you’ve seen any of the billboards around the city, or the public service announcements on the local news channels, you’ll see that this new anti-panhandling campaign is aggressive, in-your-face, and graphic. This is by design. Downtown Alliance executive director Jason Mathis says, “we want to get people’s attention and let them know about the direct link between giving money to panhandlers and encouraging drug trafficking throughout the state, as this problem extends beyond Salt Lake City.”
This is an educational campaign launched by the Downtown Alliance and local leaders at the the city and state level recently to inform people that giving money to panhandlers does not actually help them to improve their current situations. In fact, the campaign states that giving money to panhandlers does the opposite.
The new campaign also encourages the generous people of Salt Lake City and Utah who wish to give, to do so by donating to homeless service providers – not individual panhandlers. Mayor Biskupski stated, “The generosity of Utahns is something we are proud of, but this generosity needs to be directed in the right way, which is why we are asking people to give to service providers and not panhandlers.”
Homelessness and panhandling is not just a Salt Lake City issue, nor is it a Utah issue, as the opioid epidemic has reached into every corner of the country. Salt Lake City and Utah is known for our generosity. It is incredible how giving, kind, and compassionate our residents are. It’s what sets us apart. The campaign is not a push to STOP giving. It’s a push to give to service providers where you know your money will go towards established and systematic resources to truly help those experiencing homelessness and hard times. To this end, and in order to make giving as simple and easy as possible, the campaign includes a text-to-give program. You can simply text “HELPSLC” to 77948 or donations can be made online at helpslc.org.
To get the word out, The Downtown Alliance has raised $25,000 privately and are seeking additional funding to ensure that this campaign runs through the end of the year.