HONOLULU — Honolulu city officials are asking residents to give panhandlers a special business card instead of cash.
The cards were made by the city to give panhandlers contact information for agencies that can help them find housing, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday.
The cards read “Need Housing?” on the front and list the phone numbers for Aloha United Way, Honolulu Office of Housing and the statewide homeless help line on the back.
The cards are quick and simple alternative to giving panhandlers cash, which can enable people to continue living on the streets instead of seeking help, said Marc Alexander, head of the mayor’s Office of Housing.
“We know the community wants to help and we want to give people an easy way that’s also effective to get the word out about services,” he said.
The program launched earlier this month.
The 15,000 business cards cost the city $400 to make.
The cards are currently being handed out by police officers, medics and some homeless service providers.
They will be available for anyone to distribute starting next year.
But residents are unsure how panhandlers will react to the cards.
“Half the battle is they don’t want to,” Wood Soueria said. “We offer all of these places and they don’t really want to go.”
When the TV station’s crew handed one card to a panhandler only identified as Chris, he said he would call the numbers listed on the card and asked for more.
“It’s hard because you feel like the whole world is caving in on you. But there’s hope,” Chris said. “You walked up to me and gave me this. Yeah, I think this could be a great help.”
City officials plan to distribute the cards to neighborhood boards across Oahu in the coming months.
People interested in getting the cards beforehand can find them at Honolulu Hale.
Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/