COLORADO SPRINGS — Street signs in Colorado Springs tell drivers not to hand out cash to panhandlers. They've been up for a year. News5 wanted to know if the signs were working and how much money was raised for homeless service providers through the texting option outlined on the signs? City leaders and police officers are encouraged by the impact the signs are having and plan to explore options to potentially place more signs around town in the future.
At Austin Bluffs and Academy in Colorado Springs "handouts don't help" signs are displayed in the medians surrounding the busy intersection. The presence of homelessness can be seen nearby, but not out in the busy street. Colorado Springs police officers say it's a win for public safety.
"We don't want to see them get struck by a car. Those are often very, very busy intersections which is good for the panhandler attempting to see a lot of people, but also increases the likelihood of someone being seriously injured," said Lt. Jim Sokolik of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The signs aren't just to discourage drivers from giving to panhandlers, it's also to give people another option. They can donate to the service providers through HelpCOS that can help people living on the street: https://coloradosprings.gov/helpcos
"The text to give option on the signs we have raised right around $900 in the last year," said Colorado Springs Homelessness Prevention and Response Coordinator Andrew Phelps.
Near the Walmart at North Academy and I-25 several panhandlers stood along the block. Jonathan Shaffer stopped to talk to some of them, not to give them money, but to pray for them and encourage them to get help.
"Just pray for them," said Shaffer. "That's what they need."
City leaders and officers will continue to track the impact the signs have on panhandling and will explore the possibility of adding more signs in the future.
For more information on the how local service providers are taking on homelessness and how you can help visit: https://www.ppunitedway.org/