Parking meter programs aims to curb panhandling

Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 17:24:52-04

Chances are, most people who walk through downtown St. Petersburg will come across a yellow parking meter that looks out of place. 


The meters aren't a mistake, instead they are part of the "Power of Change" program.  The goal is for people to put spare change into the meters instead of giving the coins directly to panhandlers.


"What we are trying to do is educate the public about not giving money to panhandlers, because it doesn't really go for a good purpose, if you really wanna do something positive here's a way to make a donation," said program director Cliff Smith.


Smith said the program has raised about $2,000 in about a year.  City leaders believe the cash raised is a good start, but they plan to put more meters on the streets.  Currently, the downtown area has twelve meters.


"The money goes to our street outreach team, they use it to buy food, diapers, and put families up in motel rooms," said Smith.


Strands of Sunshine owner Amy Marshall likes the idea, but she believes more needs to be done.


"We see them everyday I get approached and asked for handouts on a regular basis like a daily basis," said Marshall.


She believes more people need to know about the meters.


"It potentially could be a really good thing," said Marshall.