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Is the homeless parking meter simply a display for tourists?

Vicky Eckenrode
StarNews

The main complaint organizers of the Make a Change meters receive is that the repurposed parking meters get jammed when people put the wrong type of change in them.

The parking meters formerly were used at Wrightsville Beach. There are now eight meters positioned around downtown Wilmington in spots police identified as heavy for panhandling, said Dan Ferrell, strategic director for The 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and Reduce Homelessness in the Cape Fear Region, which started installing the meters in August 2009.

The idea was to discourage panhandling by allowing people to donate through the meters to give to homeless service providers in the area.

Ferrell said the meters are designed to take quarters only and can get jammed when people put nickels, dimes and pennies in them. He said he makes a sweep twice a month to check on the meters and collect money.

Ferrell said if people come across a jammed or non-working meter they can call the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, which manages the initiative, at (910) 798-3900 to report the problem.

Ferrell said the meters program has collected between $400 and $500 since it started with only a few meters. The 10-Year Plan’s board expects to disburse the first allocation from the collections at its final meeting of the budget year in May 2011, Ferrell said.

He said the program is in the midst of promoting the meters’ purpose and locations with posters at downtown businesses.

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User-contributed question by:
T. George Hill

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4 Responses to “ Is the homeless parking meter simply a display for tourists?”

  1. On November 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm concerned citizen wrote:

    if the meters took nickles dimes and pennies I bet they would make a lot more do-ray-me!

  2. On February 26, 2011 at 9:21 am Tigger wrote:

    I would like comment on this growing problem of homelessness. One year ago my husband and I were living a good life in the nc mts,had it all,rental home,pets,job etc. Then came June 6 2009 the day that changed our lives forever.My husband was laid off after making manufactured for three years. With in a matter of time we lost it all,ended up in ga in a 200 foot square cabin trying to make sense of what happened,stayed there until husband had abad melt down that involved threatening to harm himself to which I took control and got us to my parent’s home where we stayed until she threw us out in April then we ended up back in the mts of nc where we had friends,stayed there thru the summer last year in a motel then to a campground where we stayed in a tent because he could not find work even though he tried to apply at several places there he was turned down flat. The moral of this story is we made alot of mistakes along the way but that is not what got us to this point. I see and hear alot of attitude towards us and the homeless as if we do not fit into your world. We cannot afford deposits for a place to live even though am trying as hard as I can.I called section eight and was told the list was closed.This is a sad world that we are living in when some folks get uppity when they see us out there.

  3. On June 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm Scott O wrote:

    Why does money have to filtered? I’d rather give the money directly to a homeless or otherwise worthy person. I don’t need a third party to take a cut. When I lived Downtown, I opened my home to a number of street folk who needed a meal or a shower or to use the phone or wash clothes. If more people did this, we wouldn’t need charities. Charities let you off the hook. It becomes someone else’s problem. That’s what you’re buying.

  4. On June 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm Carol Phelps wrote:

    Scott, allowing strangers into one’s home is never a safe idea. I’m glad you didn’t experience any danger, but I would not recommend it. Giving money directly to people — unless you can give enough to solve their homeless condition — helps them temporarily and very, very little. However, if many people give even a small amount to a charity, for example the 10-year Program to End Homelessness, the money can be pooled to do the most good by people who have the ability to perform accurate and appropriate intake procedures. Not everyone who holds up a “Please Help Me” sign is actually homeless or in need. The best help one citizen can give is to refer the people they encounter to a local charity. If the person is in need, he/she will appreciate the referral. If not, they at least didn’t rip off a $1 that could help a truly needy person.