The Lancaster community is known for its generosity and as the City becomes even more vibrant, some are seizing the opportunity for financial gain through aggressive panhandling. Downtown Lancaster, as well as commercial areas throughout the County, has seen a rise in this activity recently. At the request of Mayor Gray, the LCA’s Community Safety Executive Leadership Team (ELT) has assumed a lead role in addressing this issue. Through meetings with the merchant community and volunteers representing a variety of organizations with a vested interest in the City, a campaign is now underway to address the health of the community through panhandling education. The goal is to assist those in actual need in getting to the many local services available to them while creating an environment not conducive for those solely looking to take advantage of our community’s generosity. The most effective way to achieve this is by encouraging people not to give money to all panhandlers.The plan focuses on two audiences: employees and customers.
LCA volunteers are working with City employers to communicate internally with their workforce not only to encourage employees not to give to panhandlers, but to provide information to their staff of the various community service organizations that offer services to those who are in need. It is suggested that businesses remind their employees several times a year.
The LCA also continues to work with City merchants in educating their staff and customers. Posters reminding people not to give to panhandlers will be made available to businesses that wish to display them. They will also be provided with “211 cards”, created by the Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness. These cards provide information about locations available for those in need to get food and/or services and can be made available to customers if approached on the street.
In addition, the LCA/DID Bike Ambassadors and Clean Teams will be equipped with the 211 cards to distribute to visitors who may innocently give to panhandlers.
For more information about the campaign, please visit our website or contact Dave Aichele, Director of Clean and Safe Services, or Colleen Wagner, Leadership Teams Manager, at 717-394-0783.