When you give money to panhandlers, it perpetuates and endless cycle and doesn’t address the root cause of homelessness. It may lead to continued substance abuse and even to someone’s death.
When you support #GiveMHT5, your money goes directly to provide food, shelter, and safety to those in need – and helps deter panhandling.
#GiveMHT5 is a collaboration between the Greater Manchester Chamber, the Mayor’s Office and the Manchester Health Department to support organizations hard at work to end homelessness and deter panhandling.
Instead of giving money to a panhandler, give $5 – or any amount – along with a virtual “high-five” to local organizations doing great work help those in need.
Not every homeless person panhandles – and not every panhandler is homeless.
Homelessness and panhandling are complex issues every community faces. People who have no place to live are exposed to numerous health and safety risks. Panhandling provides money to vulnerable populations who may not use funds for well-intentioned purposes, disrupts businesses, and deters customers.
Experts and research tell us that that while well-intentioned, giving to panhandlers perpetuates the cycle of homelessness (for those who actually are homeless) and can contribute to injury or death if the money given is used to buy alcohol or drugs. Also, stopping while driving to give to panhandlers is a risk for traffic accidents and is dangerous for both parties.
Through #GiveMHT5, your generosity can go much further in addressing the root causes of homelessness and deter panhandling - rather than dropping change in a cup.
Addressing homelessness in our community requires a collaborative and compassionate approach. The City of Manchester has taken a number of steps to address issues related to homelessness and panhandling, including, but not limited to:
- Activate the City’s Emergency Operations Center to address homelessness and addiction, bringing together representatives from the State, local service provides and first responders.
- In response to encampments created due to COVID-19, the city has increased outreach with an emergency response team consisting of mental health professionals, healthcare workers, EMS, and firefighters. To report new encampments or areas that need to be cleaned, email EOC@manchesternh.gov
- Established the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness. As a direct result of the task force, we’ve added outreach workers and amplified community policing efforts.
- Increased funding to the shelter to stay open during the day to provide individual and group case management
- Partnered with Harvard University to enact a comprehensive study on the cost of homelessness in our community.
- Increased police presence walking downtown and renovated the Elm Street Welcome Center to include a police substation.
- Partnering with Intown Manchester to implement beautification efforts in the Central Business District
- Allocated federal CDBG funding to Families in Transition-New Horizons that supported facility improvements and enhanced safety measures completed in 2019, including the renovation of bathrooms.
- Continue to work with and call upon the State to develop a statewide plan on homelessness, increase treatment options across New Hampshire, and open more emergency shelter beds. Manchester cannot solve the state’s issues alone.
How you can help
Click to donate to the #GiveMHT5 fund, administered by Granite United Way, which will disperse funds in support of efforts to end homelessness.
When you choose to donate to #GiveMHT5, your money will go directly to nonprofit organizations with the resources to make the most impact helping Manchester’s most vulnerable populations.
Here’s what your generosity can deliver:
- 20 donations of $5: Two weeks of social service support for an individual.
- 50 donations of $5: Three meals a day for a family for a full month.
- 100 donations of $5: Three months of therapy for a child in need.
- 200 donations of $5: Rent covered for a homeless family for one month.
We welcome financial support at any level. Click here to make a secure donation.
Resources for businesses struggling with panhandlers.
Business owners and patrons can all play a role in stopping panhandling and ending homelessness.
While the urge to give money or food to people is well-intentioned, it does nothing to eliminate the root causes of homelessness – and it’s harmful to businesses.
Business owners report that their customers feel uncomfortable when panhandlers “set up shop” outside their establishments, or approach them asking for money or food. This makes their customers less willing to come downtown and patronize local businesses – which, in turn, damages the local economy.
Below are resources you can implement to spread the word about this important effort:
- Display a poster in your business
- Circulate an informational flyer to employees
- Add our logo to your menu to help raise awareness
- Post our logo and this message on social media on August 13, 2020 & August 14, 2020
- Contact us for flyers and informational cards on #GiveMHT5 for your business.
Who is working to address homelessness in the City?
The Manchester Continuum of Care (MCoC) is a coordinated system of homeless services aimed at preventing and ending homelessness. The MCoC is made up of non-profits, city departments, and key stakeholders related to homelessness including FIT/New Horizons, Waypoint, Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, Harbor Homes ( changed to Harbor Cares), The Way Home, Manchester School Department, Manchester CIP and the YWCA. In addition, the City of Manchester allocates around $2 million per year in federal funds to address homelessness and affordable housing.
I want to be part of the solution, how can I help?
If you can, donate. By giving to #GiveMHT5 your money will go directly to nonprofit organizations with the resources to make the most impact helping Manchester’s most vulnerable populations.
Who do I call when I see an issue?
Trash, rubbish, refuse, call Public Works: 624-6444 or the Manchester Connect App
Non-emergency crime or suspected illegal activity, call Police: 668-8711
Emergency crime or illegal activity, call 9-1-1 immediately
Medical waste or needles, call the Health Department: 624-6466
All Manchester residents deserve the opportunity to live in permanent housing, stay in a safe shelter, access nutritious food, health care, or treatment for substance use disorder. By giving to local nonprofits, and not panhandlers, individuals can support programs that offer solutions. The campaign and the ongoing work will help bring the community together in understanding how to best strengthen opportunities to help those in need.
Why doesn’t the City pass an ordinance prohibiting people from panhandling?
The Courts have held that panhandling is a protected form of free speech under the First Amendment. Panhandling is generally viewed by the courts as a form of charitable solicitation with the sole distinction from a traditional charitable organization solicitation being that the person is seeking a donation to themselves rather than a third-party organization. Cities through the United States that have sought to outlaw panhandling have seen their ordinances deemed unconstitutional and unenforceable and have been held in some cases financially liable. Manchester did once have such an ordinance, but it was struck down by the courts.
Can the City restrict panhandling in the certain locations, such as the downtown business district?
Panhandling is a constitutionally protected form of free speech. The City can adopt regulations that are “content neutral” that regulate the time, place, and manner of speech. However, the City cannot adopt an ordinance that targets one particular speaker, message, or viewpoint over others. For example, the City could not pass an ordinance banning a specific genre of music but could pass an ordinance banning all unwanted noise at a certain decibel level. Any regulation that expressly targeted panhandling or was adopted with the understanding that it was expressly targeting panhandling would likely be deemed unconstitutional.
Why doesn’t the City prohibit encampments along the Merrimack River or Canal Street?
Unless land uses are governed by other laws, regulations regarding camping, especially particular prohibitions as specifically applied to homeless persons who do not have a real-time viable alternative, have been recently deemed to unconstitutional. The City has and continues to actively monitor any encampment for signs that it presents health, fire, public safety or other hazards. Where necessary, the City will take the appropriate and lawful action necessary to address any health, fire, or public safety hazard presented by any encampment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both the City and those experiencing homelessness with new and difficult challenges: Persons experiencing homelessness have expressed concerns regarding staying in the local shelters due to fears of contracting COVID-19. This fear has continued despite consistent outreach and efforts to provide reassurance that our local shelters are taking appropriate safety and health precautions. Meanwhile, a centralized location for a traditionally highly transient population during a pandemic serves the City’s interest in monitoring and attempting to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 through outreach, accurate data collection and the provision of medical assistance.