Orem police encourage residents to give panhandlers a different kind of handout

Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-08 23:58:51-04

OREM, Utah -- It's a new approach to helping the homeless, as police in Orem are reaching out to city residents on social media and encouraging those who want to help panhandlers on the side of the road to give them a list of resources instead of spare change.

"We've put together a list of resources, places that can help with shelter, food, and sometimes even finding a job," said Lt. Craig Martinez with the Orem Police Department.

The Orem Police Department posted the list on their Facebook page, so Orem residents can print it and hand it out to those who are on the streets asking for money. Aggressive panhandling, such as panhandling that disrupts traffic, is against the law in Orem.

"We're trying to approach them now and give them this handout so that way they can try and get the help they need," Martinez said.

Orem Police say it's a safe way to help, taking out the doubt of whether a panhandler actually needs help or not.

Martinez said: "Sometimes you don't know what the money is actually going towards. Is it actually legitimately going to help someone or is it being used to purchase things they really don't need?"

Jim has been panhandling in Orem for the past eight months. The 65-year-old man says he hasn't been able to find work and he has to panhandle just to survive. Jim says he already knows the information on the list created by Orem PD.

"The coalition does a good job with food and clothes and laundry and showers and stuff, but as far as housing they're limited on their housing," Jim said.

That's why he says, even with those resources, he still has to panhandle. Jim says he needs the money and warns that not every panhandler is trying to scam people for a quick buck.

"There are people that do, do that, but that's not what most of us are out here for," he said. "Most of us are out here just to try to get by, get in and out of the weather."

But Orem Police said there is always a place that will help those who need it.

"If they need help, they can call us," Martinez said. "We have resources of getting people help, especially when it is cold like it is today."

You can find the resources put out by Orem police on their Facebook page and other statewide homeless shelters here.