Are downtown panhandlers disappearing?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) The anti-panhandling campaign in downtown Salt Lake City has been going for about four months now. Is it working?

That’s a hard question to answer according to Nick Como of The Downtown Alliance. They don’t keep track of the number of people holding signs on street corners asking for money.

But they have been bombarded on social media with thousands of responses to the media campaign they launched on television, billboards and signs.

“By supporting panhandlers your good intentions could actually support alcohol or drug trafficking,” says the first part of the TV campaign.

City officials said when they kicked it off that most of the people panhandling are doing it as a business and those who aren’t are supporting substance abuse issues involving drugs or alcohol.

It’s a good reminder as folks head downtown for holiday shopping filled with the giving spirit.

The Downtown Alliance is calling the campaign a success because it has started a conversation. It is educating people.

“You can now have this conversation with people,” says Nick Como. “If I do give money to a panhandler, where is it going? Why would you tell us not to help people?”

Como is quick to answer. “Yes we want you to help people and here’s how you can actually do it. And it’s not by giving money to panhandlers.”

The TV spot concludes with “don’t give money to panhandlers. Help them more by giving to these service providers.” Places like the 4th Street Clinic or The Rescue Mission or Catholic Community Services. They will make sure the money you give really does help, not hurt, a person in need.

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