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Panhandling Deflection

The Office of Homeless Solutions led the conception and implementation of a revised Panhandling Initiative approved by the Dallas City Council Government Financial and Performance Management (GPFM) Committee, in October of 2021. This initiative was adopted as a six-month pilot program in partnership with the City Attorney’s Office, the Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions Crisis Intervention Team- Right Care, the Data Analytics and Business Intelligence department, Code Compliance Services, the Communications, Outreach, and Marketing department, the Transportation department, Community Courts, and the City Marshals. The program has since been approved by the GPFM to continue until further notice.

group of homeless people in park

The Impact

Since its implementation, the initiative has brought awareness to the community through signage in nine major locations across the City, which is informed by 311 and 911 data, and a sustainable giving campaign. These signs bring awareness of the most impactful way in which to help and directs individuals to partners with established organizations for a larger impact.

This initiative includes the implementation of an internal database for all relevant departments to collectively share data on the needs of those they encounter via 311 requests. This information also allows the initiative to resolve illegal solicitation via several different pathways.

How It Works

Simply put, 311 requests work.

Strategically placed signage displaying the 311 hotline has led to a decrease in panhandling incidents. Areas in the City with increased calls to the hotline have received more attention from the City and has brought resources to the streets to help those in need.

Instead of punishing the homeless community, the 311 hotline provides a list of services and renders aid to help those in need overcome or alleviate their houseless status.

The 311 line aims to empower those in need. Here’s how the 311 line is effective:

  • Signage around communities displaying the 311 number gives citizens a clear direction on what to do in a panhandling incident.
  • Team members of Outreach and Right Care can then reach out to the panhandlers and give them tools, resources, and information on how to help alleviate their situation.
  • It allows team members to identify panhandlers or locales with prolific incidences of panhandling to then create reports on communities with the highest panhandling rates, and to identify individuals who may be in need. This data helps the City understand what resources are further needed to alleviate the issue of panhandling as it is related to homelessness.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Giving to established organizations helps to make a greater difference in the lives of those who need support the most. By giving your money or food to those who solicit on street corners, you inadvertently perpetuate their issues. Be a part of the solution by knowing where your money can make the biggest impact.

Call 311 During a Panhandling Event

The 311 hotline is not a complete solution, but it’s a safer alternative that provides relief for houseless individuals and helps you feel more comfortable and safer within your community. Learn more about how 311 helps today.