Plain Dealer Gets It Wrong
The article in Wednesday's Plain Dealer about the panhandling campaign and the $100 donated to the "Homeless Fund" stated that NEOCH supported the Downtown Alliance's campaign. This is incorrect. The Homeless Grapevine and the vendors of the paper support the campaign, because the they do not like panhandlers. The Coalition has never taken a position on the campaign, but we certainly would not support a battle against our own constituents. Sure, panhandlers are a tiny proportion of the homeless population, but we still have to respect our constituents.
We are not actively opposing the campaign. I believe that people Downtown are smart enough to realize what they are doing when they give to a panhandler. It is almost like pulling the lever on a slot machine--rarely do you win, but we always hold out hope. We know that most of the donation is wasted, but there is always that hope that your act of kindness will turn things around for the person. A great many feel that no matter what happens to their donation, it is a small token of kindness that they do not get from donating to a charity. So, while the Coalition is not big fans of panhandling, because of the degrading nature of begging for money, we would not campaign against something that has a longer history than democracy on this planet.
I went over this repeatedly with the Plain Dealer reporter, but he just did not seem to get it. I tried to explain that the vendors are allowed to express a contrary opinion to that of the Coalition. I told him that I was most disappointed that religious groups would sign onto the campaign because of the conflict over their messages: "Go out and give to the poor, but just not downtown when someone asks." I feel bad that the three major churches downtown are listed as co-sponsors. I do not understand why the reporter would list us as a supporter, but I hope the Plain Dealer prints a correction. Far be it for us to tell you what to do with your charitable dollars, but the signs downtown seem mean-spirited.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.