DTSB sign urges people 'not give to panhandlers'

Published: Aug. 25, 2017 at 6:33 PM EDT
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If you’re in downtown South Bend, you may want to think twice before trying to give a homeless person some pocket change.

Signs reading ‘Do Not Give to Panhandlers’ are scattered around downtown.

D-T-S-B is hoping to curb the amount of panhandlers in the heart of the city by urging them to give to homeless service providers instead of homeless people themselves.

“It’s not so much the sign, it’s the message,” says Jill Scicchitano, Executive Director of DTSB. “If people feel the need to give, they have the option to give any way they want but we do have some great organizations and opportunities for them to give to people that are focused on those long-term solutions to help these individuals.”

Although the signs have been up for a short period of time, many eyebrows are being raised.

“It surprises me,” said Sandra Pierce, a South Bend resident who noticed the sign while walking downtown. “I would appreciate it if they would move it to where the panhandlers are really kind of a problem.”

There is a link at the bottom of the sign, which allows people to give to a

instead of directly to panhandlers.

An advocate for the homeless believes that South Bend is doing a great job by addressing the homelessness in this city, but believes this sign is not the best way to correct the issue.

“The message as it stands ‘Do Not’ I think is discriminatory, I think it’s demeaning I think it’s very harsh,” said John Shafer, founder of Michiana Five for the Homeless Inc., an organization that aid the homeless living on the streets. “I think it takes away the right of the individual who wants to give as well as the panhandler hoping to receive.”

According to Scicchitano, the signs will only be located in downtown for now but could have the potential to expand throughout the city.