6 things Dayton is doing to address the explosion of panhandlers — and how you can help

The explosion of panhandlers in Dayton will be hit with a plan that includes retired parking meters, a text-to-give campaign and a new website, officials say.

>> MORE: With no law, panhandlers hit streets in force

A coalition organized by the Downtown Dayton Partnership that includes the City of Dayton, Dayton police and bevy of social service nonprofits has released the Real Change Dayton campaign to address the local increase in panhandling following a 2015 Supreme Court decision. 

>> MORE: Why does it seem like there has been an increase in panhandlers?

Officials say it is OK to say no to panhandlers and local residents should. 

“What people might not realize is you can give a dollar to someone standing with a sign at the intersection, but that same dollar can be stretched farther when it’s donated to a local nonprofit or social service agency,” said Tracy Sibbing, vice president of community impact at United Way of the Greater Dayton Area.

SIX COMPONENTS OF REAL CHANGE CAMPAIGN FROM DOWNTOWN DAYTON PARTNERSHIP

➡️ Real Change Dayton meters: Vibrantly wrapped retired parking meters will serve as collection sites for those who wish to make a monetary donation. Look for them in heavy pedestrian-traveled areas. 

>>RELATED: Downtown bar closing, blames meter maids, city

➡️ Log on; make change: A new website, RealChangeDayton.com, will be the hub for information on different local agencies and the services they provide. There will be links for those organizations and information on supporting their services through donations as a volunteer or financial support.
>>RELATED: 7 downtown Dayton parking hacks

➡️ Text to give: A new text-to-give method provides a way to make mobile donations that will support local agencies tasked with helping those in need. Funds collected at all Real Change Dayton meters and online donation sites will be directed to the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area and invested in program that focus on financial stability, positive health outcomes, and emergency services like homeless shelters.
>>RELATED: What are the oldest bars in downtown Dayton?

Photo: News | WFTV

➡️ Connect with a card: Real Change Dayton will create small cards with important information to connect those in need to local social service agencies. Emergency information will be printed on one side, and the HelpLink will be on the other. HelpLink is United Way of Greater Dayton’s free and confidential hotline that supplies information about social services to those in need. Call 2-1-1 (or 224-3000) to reach the HelpLink 24/7. The call assistant will determine which organization(s) can best help individuals in need and help that person with the next steps to obtaining assistance of any kind.

>> MORE: Program helps get homeless off streets, into jobs

➡️ Lend time and talent: Volunteer opportunities at each agency can be found via links from RealChangeDayton.org. Donations made directly to those organizations can impact underserved communities and those in need of services.

>>RELATED: 7 amazing things to do in downtown Dayton

➡️ Tell a friend: Real Change Dayton will work when we all work together to find a better way to give. Share information about Real Change Dayton in your social circles and let people know they can make their donation go farther by contributing to the agencies that are best suited to help those in need.

>>RELATED: Dayton's craft beer walking trail is growing

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE OLD LAW? 

➡️ The city started cracking down on panhandlers in 2011 with a controversial law that had panhandlers who violated the law jailed instead of citing them. 

Solicitors were required to register and obtain permits. Begging times were restricted to certain hours.

>> MORE: Downtown group to discuss panhandling fixes

➡️ In July 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on content-based speech are unconstitutional. Following that ruling, several federal appellate courts ruled anti-panhandling regulations violate freedom of speech protections.

➡️ The city of Dayton axed its registration program in July of 2016. More than 1,140 panhandlers were arrested in the city, mostly for registration-related offenses under the law.

>> MORE: 5 things to know about Dayton panhandling laws

PLAYERS IN REAL CHANGE DAYTON

In addition to the city and DDP, the campaign is supported by Montgomery County; United Way of the Greater Dayton Area; Goodwill/Easter Seals of the Miami Valley; Homefull, Miami Valley Housing Opportunities; Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug, Addiction and Mental Health Services; PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) Program Street Outreach; St. Vincent DePaul and the Foodbank.

WHAT TO DO IF “NO” IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Officials say the police should be called (937-333-COPS within Dayton) if a panhandler becomes aggressive or threatening after being told “no.”

Portion of the Real Change Dayton campaign pamphlet.
Photo: Image: Downtown Dayton Partnership

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