The “Please Help, Don’t Give” initiative was discussed during Española’s Public Safety Committee Sept. 1 meeting.

The initiative would discourage people in Española from giving cash to local panhandlers, and instead encourage them to donate to local charities. A similar initiative is already in place in Santa Fe, where there are signs that read “Say no to panhandlers. Donate to local charities.”

City Councilor Peggy Martinez was concerned that by giving cash to panhandlers, locals were adding fuel to the fire: the more cash they get, the more panhandlers will beg. And she said this was only enabling their drug addictions by giving them money to buy their next fix.

“The ‘Please Help, Don’t Give’ initiative was originally thought of by someone in another state, and what it did was redirect the public’s generosity about giving money to panhandlers in their community,” Martinez said. “Panhandling has grown since I’ve become a councilor, probably doubled or tripled or quadrupled in the last four years, and it’s getting worse.”

She also brought up the assumption that homeless people from other areas are now traveling to Española to panhandle. 

Martinez said local authorities should be prepared for a backlash from the homeless, if this initiative is launched, and that it could possibly lead to more crime. She said she would nail down the details and finalize the plan before sending it in to the full Council for approval.

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