Posted by: Jennifer | May 14, 2007

an honest day’s work

The City of Fredericton has come up with a new idea in an effort to lessen the amount of panhandling that goes on in the city.

The program in New Brunswick’s capital provides downtown merchants with vouchers redeemable for food and other necessities that they can hand out to panhandlers willing to do odd jobs, such as snow removal and window washing.

Store owner Luke Randall hopes the pilot project will turn confrontations between business owners and panhandlers into “a conversation between the people who are at need and businesses.”

Suzanne Barry, chairwoman of the Fredericton Community Planning Group on Homelessness, which is behind the pilot project, says it will be entirely up to panhandlers to take part.

“We have a chance to have people say, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of that program,’ or ‘No, I don’t want to be,’ rather than going out and targeting people, because everybody’s reason for panhandling is different. So, some people this may work for and others it may not.”

Money for the pilot project comes from private donations. Organizers hope that if it’s successful, permanent funding can be found to keep it going.

I have a hell of a lot more respect for someone who is willing to work in exchange for cash/vouchers, rather than someone who expects a hand-out just because their life sucks. I really hope that the majority of the panhandlers go for this, because it’s hard not to see this project as a win/win situation for both the city and its citizens.


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