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Boise City Council approves $15,000 for anti-panhandling campaign

UPDATED: Boise will spend $25,000 on a campaign to discourage panhandling and steer handouts to local non-profits instead.

The city tested its proposed Have a Heart Give Smart Boise campaign this summer. The campaign used leaflets and posters to advise shoppers at the Albertsons grocery store on State and 17th Streets that their handouts would be better used going to organizations that help the poor, not to the panhandlers who station themselves in the parking lot. Panhandling dropped about 10 percent during the pilot project, according to city officials.

Nov. 9, the City Council approved $15,000 for materials to take the campaign city-wide for two months over the holidays, city spokesman Adam Park said. The city had $10,000 earmarked for the project already.

The city is working with Albertsons Corp., the United Way of Treasure Valley, and other organizations on the campaign.

The $15,000 comes from the city’s economic development fund, which is gleaned from rental of city-owned rail line, Park said.

The pilot project raised awareness about the issue of panhandling and giving to the needy, said Neva Geisler, vice president of community engagement for United Way.

“When people saw someone asking for money on a street corner, I think almost everyone, if asked to help a little bit, would be happy to do so,” Geisler said. “But what it really shined a light on was the understanding that (giving to panhandlers) was not a solution, it was kind of a quick fix.”

About Anne Wallace Allen

Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.