AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – They sit on exit ramps and right of ways holding signs asking for money, and the problem Augusta leaders say is that they’re getting it.
“Augusta needs to stop giving people money at intersections. Just stop. Give them food, but don’t give them money,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Next week, commissioners will discuss the Give Change That Counts initiative, an educational and marketing campaign to direct people to the city website site to find links to non-profits helping the needy, so they can donate there instead of handing dollars to panhandlers.
“You will go to that website, and then be able to select which non-profit you choose to give your dollars to,” said Interim City Administrator Takiyah Douse.
The Give Change That Counts program comes from Savannah where there has been success in curbing panhandling.
“They have seen a decline in their panhandlers that have been present in the public right of ways as well as the non-profits that participate with the organizations have also seen an increase in donations,” said Douse.
The Sheriff’s office says the majority of panhandlers are not homeless, but there is no law against holding a sign asking for money on the right of way, but Augusta leaders have interest in a Charleston, South Carolina law that bans the exchange of items like money from a motorist to a pedestrian.
“We got to stop handing out money at the corridors because that’s the reason they come to Augusta,” says Commissioner Frantom.
City leaders believe that is being generous to a fault.