North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local cities team up to fight panhandling

Marysville, Arlington produce brochure listing support services for homeless people in the community

 

October 11, 2017 | View PDF

Courtesy Image

This map on Arlington and Marysville's brochure shows nearby locations that support homeless individuals.

Marysville and Arlington officials worked together on a community resource brochure that they hope will guide people to organizations that help homeless individuals instead of giving money directly to panhandlers.

The flyer, which is available at http://bit.ly/ArlMsvlCares, at Marysville City Hall or at Arlington City Hall, provides a map of resources in both cities and contact information which can be used by those who need help.

"The main thing we're trying to communicate to our residents is that giving to a panhandler can exacerbate the drug problem," said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.

"We don't know if this or that person is going to spend the money they receive on drugs, but we do know a number of them do," he said.

Nehring said that people can do what they want do with their money, but the city is encouraging donations to organizations rather than individuals.

The effort to reduce panhandling was driven by the citizens from both communities.

"Panhandling is one of the very visible issues," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who added it is one of the most frequent concerns she hears from residents.

"It makes me angry that people don't feel safe when they're trying to get to the store. That's not what we want," she said.

Marysville officials have heard similar remarks.

"We've received dozens and dozens of calls and personal comments that people are concerned about the number of homeless and panhandlers," said Nehring.

He said that the city started a "Keep the Change" campaign about two years ago to help reduce panhandling.

"Sometimes they were jumping out in the middle of the road and it was really unsafe," said Nehring.

"We have seen a number of those intersections with reduced panhandling," he said.

Nehring said that the biggest increase in recent years has been around the Smokey Point area.

"Both Marysville and Arlington are very connected in the Smokey Point area and that is one of the areas where we see a lot of panhandlers," said Tolbert. "So we have been working together on a number of efforts for that region."

Officials from both cities want to take a united approach to the panhandlers in the area.

"We don't want a solution that is just going to push the panhandlers to the other side of I-5," said Tolbert.

Nehring said that most of the panhandlers who come to Smokey Point are not locals.

"Our police have tracked the statistics and a number of our panhandlers are coming from out of town," he said, adding that if the money dries up they will leave and go to a different community.

"In regard to panhandling, the one way to get rid of them is to stop giving them money and then they will go somewhere else," said Tolbert.

The local information brochures are meant to help direct individuals that do need help to support in the area.

"For those that are truly in need of support we'd like to get them to the services that they need," said Nehring.

 

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