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Signs encouraging drivers to not give money to panhandlers, call hotline instead

KATC speaks to a man experiencing homelessness about the impact of the signs.
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Posted at 5:49 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 23:22:32-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — At busy intersections where you might usually see a homeless person asking for change, you’ll now find signs that encourage drivers to call 211 instead.

At parks near downtown Lafayette, you’ll often find homeless people, sitting on benches. Just a few steps away, you’ll find a sign encouraging drivers not to give money to the homeless.

33-year-old Brian Larson has been experiencing homelessness for about three months. He moved here from Oregon, and one simple mishap derailed his way of life.

“I lost my wallet out here, so my ID, my social,” said Larson. “So, I haven't been able to get a job. And the only reason I've been panhandling lately is so I can save up money so I can get my ID."

He says when he panhandles, he doesn’t stay there for long. He usually just needs a few dollars to get something to eat for the day.

“I go down there, I do it really quick, I'm in, I'm out,” he explained. “Make maybe four, five dollars. I’m not going to sit there and make no $400.”

But now, these signs are popping up around Lafayette. A spokesperson for LCG told our media partners at The Advocate, the Guillory administration is behind the signs. About a dozen have been placed, and a total of 40 will be put up.

“They got to do what they got to do, obviously I want to follow the law,” said Larson. “I’m only doing this because I'm in a pickle, but there might be a lot of people out there. And it stinks being homeless.”

ARCH Executive Director Leigh Rachal says the signs don’t prevent panhandling, and neither do laws or ordinances. Instead, it takes a combined effort of social services, government, organizations, and individuals.

The signs, by no means, are encouraging you not to help the homeless, but rather, change the way you help.

When you call 211 operators direct your call to resources to help the homeless, people struggling with addiction, and others in need.

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