Albuquerque panhandling initiative raises $5 in one day

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s been just one day since Albuquerque’s mayor announced a new plan to cut down on panhandling and so far it’s not working.

More than 30 new signs are now plastered around Albuquerque telling people in need to call 311. For those who want to help the homeless and the hungry, the signs direct them to a website where they can donate.

The signs are all part of the city’s new campaign “There’s a Better Way” to stop Albuquerque panhandlers and stop people from forking out cash to those on the streets.

KRQE News 13 wanted to know how well the new signs are working.

“If you see somebody that needs help you’ve got to help them. That’s morals,” said one driver.

“Everybody has a right to survive to eat,” said another driver.

Thursday, KRQE News 13 caught one panhandler standing right next to one of the newly installed signs.

Driver after driver handed him money, water and in one case a care package.

Joseph Florez recently lost his job and home. He has some strong opinions about the mayor’s new plan.

“I think he thinks if he puts it up the people will stop giving and the problem is solved. It’s just going to make the problem worse. He’s not doing anything to help,” said Florez.

Virgil Foley, also homeless, said he agrees.

“If a person wants to give someone money why can’t they?” said Foley.

Some people said they don’t like the city telling them what to do with their money. It could be why DONATEabq.org hasn’t gotten much traffic. So far, the new initiative has raised $5.

A city spokesperson said it’s a new idea and it will take time to catch on.

Those who provide services for the homeless said the campaign is a quick fix for a much bigger problem.

“For our mayor, a city official, to say don’t give money to a panhandler I’ve never heard anything more ludicrous in the 30 plus years I’ve worked in this state,” said Joy Junction CEO and Founder Jeremy Reynalds.

In addition to signs, the city says it’s working on creating bumper stickers and billboards to remind drivers to donate and not give money directly to panhandlers.

So far, only about 160 people have clicked on the DONATEabq.org website.

The city says all of the donations will go to local charities.

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