Saturday, December 02, 2006

Homeless Parking Meters

Interesting and creative take on helping, can’t wait for the results!

City offers hope for homeless via meters;
Coins register help, relief from despair
Jill Rosen, Sun ReporterThe Baltimore SunNovember 17, 2006

With just a coin, people can now turn despair in Baltimore into hope. Of course the hope lasts only a few seconds, but what did you want for a dime?

New parking meters, which debut downtown today, are part - albeit a small one - of the city's freshly launched effort to erase homelessness in 10 years.

These old-fashioned meters, the type Baltimore began retiring last year, have re-emerged with bright paint and a new mission. They have nothing to do with parking fines and everything to do with getting people off the street.

Downtown Partnership created the plan, which appears to be the first of its kind in the country, as part of its anti-panhandling initiative.

"The idea here," said Tom Yeager, a Downtown Partnership executive vice president, "is to educate the public that it's OK to give but we just want you to give where you're helping to make a change."

When someone drops a nickel, dime or quarter into one of the "Make a Change" meters, a pointer on the dial slowly shifts from "despair" to "hope." You don't get any more hope for a quarter than a nickel and to ward off despair, someone would have to stand at the machine forever with a bottomless bag of change.

Though conceivably that could tap the city's existential angst - the register won't stick on hope, even if the meter's full - every last coin will go to programs run by Baltimore Homeless Services Inc.