ARLINGTON, Texas – In response to growing public concern, the City of Arlington has initiated a unique pilot program aimed at curbing the proliferation of panhandling. This move follows a surge in complaints concerning this issue.
City of #Arlington launches pilot #program to discourage people from giving money to #panhandlers. This move follows a surge in complaints concerning this issue.#Dallas #DallasNews #Texashttps://t.co/yIYw52lpeM
— DallasMetro.news (@DallasMetroNews) May 28, 2023
Previously frequented intersections by those soliciting cash donations have now been adorned with signs, conveying a clear-cut message to motorists: “It’s ok to say no to panhandlers.”
“If the desire is to help folks who are unhoused, there are more effective and direct ways to do that other than giving to someone at the side of the road because that can create an unsafe situation,” said Arlington Deputy City Manager Jennifer Wichmann.
The city authorities are advocating for residents to channel their donations to homeless shelters or nonprofits that focus on assisting the homeless population. The signs at intersections point interested individuals towards resources for further information.
“We’ve had about a 300% increase on traffic to our website that focuses on our homeless population,” said Wichmann.
These signs represent just a fraction of the multi-pronged approach the city is adopting in the pilot program to tackle panhandling.
In a novel approach to public safety, Arlington police have commenced remote surveillance of traffic cameras at nine intersections identified as panhandling hotspots. On detecting any unsafe activities and if not engaged in higher priority duties, officers are dispatched to these locations.
“Police do a great job when they approach these folks of seeing what help is needed first, help them solve that problem so they don’t have to seek income in this pretty dangerous and difficult way,” Wichmann said.
In accordance with city regulations, panhandlers are prohibited from stepping onto the streets to solicit donations.
Law enforcement officials generally issue warnings rather than citations in such instances and take the opportunity to educate those involved on the dangers of soliciting in such a manner.
“We’re just trying to figure out the best way to solve the problem, and really solving the problem for us is ensuring that we get these folks some sort of assistance in probably a more efficient and effective way than how they’re currently seeking it with the panhandling, and keeping folks safe,” said Wichmann.
Looking forward, the city has designs to remodel two intersections, specifically at Matlock and Sublett roads and Randol Mill Road and Green Oaks Boulevard. The objective of these modifications is to hinder panhandlers from entering the roadway from the medians. The construction work is slated to commence early next year.
The effectiveness of this pilot program will be closely monitored by city staff. Initial results will be presented to the council at the conclusion of the summer season.