Manchester leaders hope new signs deter drivers from giving money to panhandlers
Written by NH1.com on .
MANCHESTER — New signs are popping up all over the Queen City in areas typically frequented by panhandlers. The signs say, "Your generosity could lead to a fatality. Please donate to a local charity." Then it lists three Manchester-based nonprofits.
The signs are meant to dissuade compassionate residents from donating money to people who are looking to use the money for drugs or alcohol.
They are supported by city leaders including Mayor Ted Gatsas and Police Chief Nick Willard.
Police Chief Nick Willard was a guest on "The Morning Wake Up" with Nazzy and Tara on 98.3 WLNH on Tuesday morning and talked about the new signage.
"Panhandling is a community issue and as a community we need to come together to solve it," Willard said. "It could be mental illness; it could be drug addiction."
Willard said since 2015 26 known panhandlers have overdosed, many of them repeatedly. Six of the overdoses were fatal.
The chief said instead of giving these people money, we need to push them toward the resources offered to them toward recovery.
Willard offered an analogy.
"If I had 10 bottles of water and I was driving around the city giving water to homeless people, if I knew one of the 10 was poison and would kill a person, I wouldn't give them any of the water."
Willard said panhandlers will not be ticketed for soliciting money from passing vehicles, but anyone seen stopping traffic to hand money out a car window or door, could be issued a summons.
Willard said he hopes the signs make people think before handing out money to panhandlers.
"Your gift could kill somebody," he said.