In a press conference, Berry said the city and United Way are working together on the new “There’s a Better Way” campaign. He said the goal is to offer an alternative to giving cash directly to panhandlers.
The campaign is based on the idea of putting signs around Albuquerque that encourages donations through DONATEabq.org instead of handing money to panhandlers. Berry said the signs will also try to encourage those in need to call 311 for a list of organizations that offer assistance.
Berry said many panhandlers in Albuquerque continue to ask for money because so many people give them cash instead, which he said is not helpful.
“We want people in the community to be able to help,” Berry said.
A representative of United Way of Central New Mexico was on hand during the press conference and said 100% of the donations collected online or through 311 would go directly to select organizations that provide assistance.
Berry said when constituents started asking what he was doing to stop panhandling, he realized the city ordinance does not prohibit people from using signs to ask for money at street corners.
In 2004, the Albuquerque City Council passed a resolution that made “passive panhandling” legal, or the act of holding up a sign that asks for money.