City of Dallas considers giving jobs to panhandlers

With many people in Downtown Dallas seeing panhandlers getting more aggressive, the city says it has the solution — a job.

The city is considering a plan to give day labor jobs to the homeless for $10 and hour and then pay them in cash at the end of the day. But there is concern that some panhandlers won't want the jobs.

Raine Devries is fed up with panhandlers. She represents businesses and homeowners in Deep Ellum.

“The problem here is we have professional panhandlers who come to Deep Ellum and take advantage of the generosity of the community,” she said. “They know how to work the parking lots.”

Downtown resident Veronica Simmons says it's gotten so bad near where she lives downtown that she won't even use the DART anymore.

“It was frightening and caused me to change my lifestyle,” she said. “I don't go out at night. I know where the panhandlers hang out. I avoid those areas.”

To combat the problem, the city council is considering a plan that would give panhandlers jobs.

Albuquerque pioneered the plan, and cities like Amarillo and Chicago have copied it.

But Alan Sims, director of the city's Neighborhood Plus program, says there is a problem with the plan —professional panhandlers won't want the jobs.

“Go around. Get a van. If you saw people on the street, ask them if they want to work. Put them to work doing manual labor,” he said. “We've been told they make anywhere from $40-70 per hour."

One panhandler told FOX 4 he would take a job.

“They charge money to get in the shelter,” Carl Clinton said. “We have to get out here to try to make a little money."

Sims is also proposing the city invest in a campaign to educate people not to give to panhandlers.

Pastor Wayne Walker with Our Calling Church says giving money to panhandlers does more harm than good.

“Most of the people we know, they're hurting themselves, buying drugs buying alcohol, buying sex,” the pastor said.

And after months of waiting, Simmons hopes the city gets the message out soon.

“I don't think that's something we want to do as a city — have visitors avoid areas because they're afraid,” she said.

Monday’s presentation of the program came four months after the city council gave $100,000 for combating the panhandling problem.

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