New Downtown South Bend signs tell people 'Do not give to panhandlers'

New signs tell people "Do not give to panhandlers" //WSBT 22 Photo 

Giving money to the homeless is often seen as an act of generosity, but Downtown South Bend wants it to stop.

The group has placed five signs around the city urging people to donate to charity instead.

The signs read "Do not give to panhandlers. Contribute to the solution."

"It's not so much about the sign. It's really about the message, and there are organizations that you can contribute to that really focus on the long-term solution where giving money to a panhandler is not a long-term solution," says Downtown South Bend Executive Director Jill Scicchitano.

One of the charities listed on the website is Michiana Five for the Homeless.

Director John Shaffer agrees money is better spent with charity.

He says too often money is spent on the synthetic marijuana epidemic.

However, he thinks the signs should be re-worded.

He says the word "Do Not" single out the homeless and are discriminatory.

"I think it's just demeaning. I think it's very harsh," says Shafer. "I think it takes away the rights of the panhandlers as well as the person who chooses to give."

Scicchitano says she knew there would be some negative feedback.

She says the group is just trying to take responsibility and do what it can.

"We certainly understand that everybody has an opinion. We certainly don't mean to offend anybody. We're certainly not targeting anybody. I think it's going to take a lot of people to solve this. It's a complex issue," says Scicchitano.

The signs are a part of a Downtown Dignity campaign.

Downtown South Bend has also hired a new social outreach position to help connect panhandlers with resources in the community.

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