The Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Homeless Education Campaign is promoting change this year. The DCA in conjunction with the City of Cleveland, several Downtown churches and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless began a mission last August to inform the public on the difference between panhandlers and the homeless. According to Mark Lammon, special projects manager for the DCA, most homeless don’t panhandle and those panhandling often have local addresses. “We didn’t realize people [panhandled] for a living,” Lammon says, adding that some panhandlers make a good living asking others for money.
Instead of handing over your hard-earned money to the panhandler on the street, the initiative encourages people to give to the Downtown Homeless Fund, which ensures that donations are distributed to the many social service organizations serving Cleveland’s homeless population. Helena Miller, social services outreach specialist, says people did not have clear places to donate before. “We asked people to give, but had no place set up for it.” Those who wish to give can now drop donations into designated boxes in highly visible places popular with panhandlers, including outside Progressive Field and Public Square.