Stop giving money to panhandlers, say Portland relief agencies

Groups discourage giving money to panhandlers

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Downtown Clean & Safe District is encouraging people to donate money to social service nonprofits this summer, rather than give money to panhandlers in downtown Portland.

Local businesses relaunched the "Real Change not Spare Change" campaign, which is an effort to address the problem at its roots, according to the Portland Business Alliance.

People will see signs and flyers about the campaign in high-traffic areas downtown. The information will include a number to text and a QR code to scan from a mobile device that allows people to donate. The donations will be split among three local social service agencies: Transition Projects, Portland Rescue Mission and New Avenues for Youth.

Read more: Portland homeless count little changed since 2013

"We want to disrupt that moment when someone would hand change to a person on the street and instead redirect that generosity towards groups who can offer the most widespread help," said Mark Schlesinger, incoming chair of the Downtown Clean & Safe District board of directors. "Portland has terrific nonprofits that are helping people move from the streets to safer shelters and ultimately to more productive lives. We want to encourage financial support for those programs."

The "Real Change not Spare Change" campaign runs through November.

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