FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Ft. Lauderdale city commissioners have approved a new plan designed to rid city streets and parks of panhandlers.
The focus of the program involves ending panhandling. Commissioners want people to stop giving money to directly to panhandlers and instead make donations to organizations that help the homeless like the United Way of Broward or the Broward Partnership for the Homeless..
As part of the campaign, signs will be posted with the image of a hand holding a cup with a red circle around it and the international slash mark across it. The image will be captioned with “Panhandling: Don’t contribute to the problem. Contribute to the solution,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Police have already beefed up patrols around Stranahan Park as part of the city’s effort to clean up the park, which has become a haven for the homeless. The park is on the busy corner of Broward Boulevard and Andrews Avenue and is adjacent to the county’s main library.
“Families don’t feel safe, people going to the library don’t feel safe, people wanting to use public resources don’t feel safe,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler told CBS4 News last week.
The city believes the sight of the homeless is affecting tourism, nearby businesses and tarnishing the city’s image.
Seiler said the police are cracking down on crimes like public drunkenness, indecent exposure and urinating in public.
But the homeless say they have nowhere else to go.
“There’s people out here that need help,” said one homeless man who did not want to be identified. “There’s also people out here that don’t know how to get it. All (the city is) trying to do is take people to jail.”
The homeless say they congregate in the park because that is where outside groups come to feed the homeless or bring necessities to them. The homeless estimate there can be as many as 150 homeless people in the park during feeding times.
The Sun-Sentinel contributed to this report