AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A resolution to initiate a campaign to encourage the public not to give to panhandlers was advanced by Aurora City Council on Monday night.
The city claims the ultimate goal of this program would be to promote stable employment and housing, as well as safety for those on the road. The initiative, if passed, would include signs, social media campaigns and billboards encouraging giving to organizations rather than panhandlers.
Before the Monday night meeting, some on the city council shared why they would lend their support for this.
“I can say that I believe that directing individuals who have a heart to help those in need to the appropriate nonprofits is a more effective and compassionate solution,” Mayor Pro Tem Françoise Bergan said. “At the same time, I do believe it is an effort to create safety for both those panhandling and for motorists.”
There were objections to the initiative from Council Members Juan Marcano and Alison Coombs, who noted a lack of data presented and the idea that the costs for this type of signage might outweigh the intentions.
Sponsor: Panhandling bill aims to steer people to services
Councilman Steve Sundberg, who sponsored the item, said he sees it as a safety and wellness issue for those panhandling, saying that when residents give to those on the street, it can enable them to stay there rather than seek long-term solutions.
“Sometimes, they’re just enabled to stay in a cycle of dependency and addiction, and we want to steer them towards services that will lead to long-term benefit,” Sundberg said.
Mayor Mike Coffman took to Facebook earlier this month in support of pushing for residents not to give money to panhandlers and pushing for donations to programs.
FOX31 reached out to the Aurora Police Department about this issue and they gave some insight into how many times panhandlers are stopped by officers.
“There were no summons issued for 94-116, Aggressive begging. This would not include numbers of people who were contacted for this offense but counseled and not issued a summons, a verbal warning in other words. To try and capture those numbers, I did a keyword search for ‘panhandling’ and found 163 calls where ‘panhandling’ was mentioned,” a police spokesperson said.