May 8, 2018
This month you’ll see signs go up at key intersections around the city where panhandling is prevalent.
The city sympathizes with those facing hardships including homelessness and hunger, but also the property owners, motorists and others who experience the negative side of panhandling. That includes increased collisions at intersections where people are stepping into traffic to take items from drivers, and an increase in the number of pedestrian vs. vehicle collisions.
Often times an increase in trash, food products and even hypodermic needles are found at locations where panhandlers frequent. Left behind food products can lure domestic and wild animals searching for food; the increased trash at the city’s major intersections is unattractive.
There are many organizations and charities in Lakewood and Pierce County focused on providing food, shelter and services to those who are in need. Giving to these organizations ensures that your “change” is going to legitimate purposes.
There is no way to know if the panhandler you encounter is going to use the money you give them to purchase something legitimate like food or medicine, or use it on something like alcohol or drugs.
There is also no way to know if the person you encounter really is homeless, has a sick child or family they need to care for, or is a veteran like they claim.
Resources for those in need have always been available. Some people simply choose not to use them.
Lakewood police officers regularly provide pamphlets to homeless and panhandlers, providing them with multiple resources available in the community. Our officers will continue to do this and the pamphlets will be available at both the front desks of City Hall (6000 Main St SW) and the police station (9401 Lakewood Dr SW).
The city also dedicates 1 percent of its general fund to human services. That amounts to roughly $360,000 that goes back each year into community organizations focused on providing affordable housing, shelters, food banks, financial counseling and other services to help people find stability.
If you know someone who would like a pamphlet or who would benefit from being connected to these resources please contact the Lakewood Police Department at (253) 830-5000.