There's a Better Way to Help: Police Department Enacts Education Campaign on Panhandling

The El Paso Police Department, in an effort to address concerns from the public and help promote a positive image of our city to visitors, has begun an extensive education campaign on panhandling. The El Paso Police Department has teamed up with the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless in an effort to ensure that those individuals that need help are getting the help and educate the public on those individuals that might be trying to take advantage of the generosity of our citizens and visitors.

Statistics provided by the El Paso Coalition for the homeless show that an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people annually are homeless in our community. Some of these people may be homeless due to a mental disability, drug use or other such factors. The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless is a 65-member organization made up of local service providers, area government entities, local churches, private citizens, hospitals and the business community.

What the Police Department is asking citizens to do is not give to panhandlers on the street but in turn, give to the organizations that can help them turn their lives around. By giving to someone on the street you may unknowingly be giving money to support a drug or alcohol problem. In addition, there are individuals that prey on the generosity of people to make money. It is also important to remember that panhandling is a Class C Misdemeanor for both the Donor and Recipient that is punishable by up to a $500 dollar fine and court costs.

The benefit of offering assistance to the homeless population by donating to organizations that provide help for these individuals is that those in need will receive proper referrals when calling. Your donations will be directed to the proper agencies. Individuals will not handle the money, but rather receive the benefits through the various agencies. It helps eliminate hazardous traffic situations involving individuals on or along our roadways. Individuals cannot spend your money on alcohol or drugs. In addition your donation will be tax deductible.

If you want to help those truly in need, call the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless to make a donation at (915) 843-2170.