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Mesa launches panhandling signs at several intersections

Posted at 1:42 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 19:11:16-05

MESA, Ariz. — The City of Mesa is introducing a plan aimed at deterring panhandling by placing signs at several intersections that ask people to donate to social services helping those facing homelessness.

The pilot program launched by the city will place signs that say “It’s OK to say NO to panhandling,” which directs commuters to where they can donate to social service programs.

“Text AZMESA HANDUP to 468311 to learn how you can give a hand up not a hand out to those in need,” the sign reads.

A total of 11 signs will be place at three intersections in the Country Club corridor, where city officials say they had a high number of panhandling complaints.

ABC15 has learned that Mesa has around 3,600 people who are documented as homeless, and estimate approximately 30% of those who are in need are not engaging with services.

Mesa officials estimate there’s around 5,000 people experiencing homelessness.

“The limitation we’ve been seeing, there's a certain segment of the population that are resistant to services and, in many cases, they’re resistant services because they’re getting, at the lowest level, their needs met by people giving to them on the corner here,” said Detective Aaron Raine with Mesa Police Department’s community services division.

The City of Scottsdale has a similar program with signage at several intersections as well.

Scottsdale officials tell ABC15 that their partnership with New Faces Day Relief Centers and two interfaith communities has helped assist 118 people experiencing homelessness.