Hillcrest: Stop giving money to panhandlers

Posted at 5:09 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 20:09:11-04

Hillcrest is known for its cool restaurants, shops, and generous people.

Some say the generosity is bringing more homeless people to the area.

"The customers that come here, the people that live here actually exacerbates the problem," said Ben Nichols, Hillcrest Business Association.

Some businesses have posted signs in their window encouraging people not to give money to panhandlers.

Nichols is president of the Hillcrest Business Association, and says complaints from local stores is the reason they've teamed up with the Alpha Project to help the homeless get off the streets.

"To engage with the homeless community and try to give them services and help lead them to a more healthy lifestyle, whether that's job training or shelter or food or water," Nichols said.

As part of the campaign, local businesses and the city paid the Alpha Project $50,000 to provide housing, food, and other necessities to those in need.

Since July, the Alpha Project has helped 20 homeless people in the Hillcrest area get on their feet.

Residents say while they have seen the homeless population increase, they'll follow their heart when it comes to deciding whether or not to give their money to panhandlers.

"It kind of depends on the person and who it is, we know a lot of them, we know some of them by name, we know which are really nice and cool and friendly and which are little bit more on the sketchy side," Tyler Flood said.

"Usually I offer to buy them food or I give them money if I'm not able to purchase something for them, I just feel like it's not up to us to judge what's going on in their life," Jessica Graham said.