Reconsider how you give

Use your spare change to make real change

March 23, 2016 - Media statement from the Clean & Safe board chair

The decision to give money to a panhandler – someone who asks for money - is a personal one. However, if you have been approached by a panhandler and want to help, Downtown Clean & Safe, urges you to instead consider giving to one of the many proven social service agencies in the Portland-metro area.

These organizations rely on donations from the community and are specially trained to connect individuals in need to the appropriate agencies who can offer basics like food, shelter and safety while helping people take steps towards a better life. Your contributions, no matter how large or small, will go the furthest towards making a difference.

Panhandling is a challenging issue faced by cities of all sizes. People who panhandle may need help, but a recent survey by Downtown Clean & Safe and a local social service provider found that money given to panhandlers often goes to harmful addictions, such as drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse, which keeps people in need for a longer period of time and makes the problem of panhandling in our city worse.

Many of the people closest to helping homeless populations feel strongly that there are more effective ways to making a difference than giving money to panhandlers. You can read about their individual perspectives in The Oregonian article on panhandling.

By donating below instead of panhandlers on the street, you can play an integral role in improving the lives of individuals, while helping your community.

For a list of social service providers, go to and search for local providers in your area.

Funds collected will go to the Kevin Montgomery Smith Fund and be dispersed to social service providers in the community who are delivering front-line services to those experiencing homelessness.

For more information about this initiative, contact us at