On the one hand, it seems like a good idea; panhandling certainly doesn't solve the problem of homelessness. But these comments from our panhandling-hating, infinitive-splitting mayor gave me pause:
The argument for The Box is that it is a better way to help the homeless, but its real purpose is to eliminate panhandling. I guess I'd rather the city do this than try to ban panhandling, which has been done in numerous places, including Durham County. But to couch it in terms of helping the homeless seems disingenuous to me. As someone who used to ask for money for a living, I think it's clear that The Box doesn't do any favors for people who live by panhandling; it is a public service for people who are interested in helping others without touching or looking at them.
At a news conference Thursday, Mayor Greg Ballard and advocates for the homeless said most panhandlers are not homeless -- they are scam artists betraying people's trust and good intentions. "If you want to truly help the homeless, give to the groups who provide the services that make people more productive," Ballard said. "The panhandlers will go away when the money goes away."