An effort to cut down on panhandling in downtown Lancaster is gaining support from businesses and city groups. The Lancaster City Alliance is a group of community and business leaders in the city. They met last month to look for ways to improve the city’s image downtown. One of the solutions was to start a campaign to cut down on panhandling by informing citizens of why it can do more harm than good.
Lancaster City Alliance President Bob Shoemaker said people on the street asking for money hurts the city’s image. “If they are downtown and have been recently panhandled it’s giving them a negative experience and that’s certainly not what we’re about here in Lancaster.”
Shoemaker is working with business owners like David Hommel who owns Carmen & David’s Creamery downtown. Hommel doesn’t have a problem with panhandlers, but thinks giving money is not he best way to help. “There’s so many organizations and churches that need help to continue with the programs or improve the programs that they are doing right now to help the homeless” said Hommel.
One of those organizations is Tabor Community Services. They provide financial counseling and help Lancaster’s homeless find work and places to stay. The organizations president, Bob Thomas, said “giving money to people on the street doesn’t really help them. It’s nothing more than a very temporary fix and once you give the money to someone you don’t really know for sure how it’s going to be used.”
Thomas said donating helps the city and the people who need it most. “Some panhandling is done by people who really are in need, but in other cases it’s done simply by people who are trying to take advantage of people on the street” said Thomas.
The Lancaster City Alliance holds it’s next meeting in the first week of April and will discuss the panhandling issue. Business owners can attend and express their opinions.