Pasadena is going to be know for a lot more than just hosting the Big Bang Theory! It looks like this city has a solution for the homeless. Fourteen repurposed parking meters, stationed across the city, will collect change for non-profits that serve the homeless. The meters are painted bright orange, have smiley faces and inspirational quotes over them, will help to reduce homelessness across the city.
Pasadena is the first city is LA to have donation meters addressing this issue. Though they don’t raise bucket loads of money, they are low maintenance and unobtrusive. They’ve raised $270 over the past three weeks.
The notion of collecting money for non-profits that serve homelessness over handing money to actually homeless people, is one of controversy. Is the money I’m handing over to the non-profits reaching where it should? Is this homeless person needy of financial support or am I funding an addiction?
If we would get serious about addressing the actual economic and social issues that we find so offputting, we wouldn’t need meters.
Says Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a homelessness advocacy group.
The view on the streets of Pasadena is mixed.
Dorothy Edwards, 56, used to panhandle near a store in eastern Pasadena. She’d use the money to take care of her dog, to buy rain gear and tents. She says that the money made her feel independent, but also made being homeless easy. She also adds, “Homeless people wouldn’t be out there doing that if they didn’t really need it, but when you look at the big picture, the meters are going to be a long-term solution.”
However, not everyone feels this way. Holly Johnson, a woman panhandling on Lake Avenue, argues that nonprofits don’t always know what the homeless need. Granola bars are pointless for people without healthy teeth, as is canned food without a can opener. She needs money for her own reasons — curing an eye that is red and swollen from infection. Women living outdoors are especially vulnerable, she said, and that panhandling money might pay for a hotel room where she could sleep without fear of sexual assault.
“It’s a nice idea,” Johnson said. “But we won’t get that money.”
Homelessness might not just be a third world problem. Has your city done anything out-of-the-ordinary to help them out?