On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the Virginia Beach City Council voted to support staff recommendations to extend the “Power of Change” Donation Meter Program for two more years. The council also voted to expand the program by adding eight more donation meters, if necessary. October marked the end of the one-year pilot program, which generated a total of $7,032 from sponsorships and donations collected directly from the meters.
The City Council approved the pilot program in August 2010 to help reduce panhandling in the resort area, while providing an option for people who want to give to the homeless. Eight bright-red parking meters were installed along the Boardwalk, identified by signs to attract donations. The signs explain that contributions to the meters will be used towards solutions to help break the cycle of homelessness. By using the meters, citizens and visitors know that their donations are put to good use. Proceeds from the meters are distributed to organizations dedicated to helping the homeless and to provide basic supplies, outreach and support. The program has proven to be successful in reducing panhandling in the resort area and in helping the city and its partners provide direct assistance to the homeless.
“Since implementing the program, merchants at the Oceanfront along 17th Street have seen a significant reduction in panhandling, and city staff has received inquiries about our program from three other localities,” said Mike Eason, resort administrator with the SGA Resort Management Office.”We view this as a testament to the program’s success and hope to grow it by partnering with local churches, schools and other organizations in the future.”
The donation meter funds have been combined with $25,000 that the City Council allocated last year as Homeless Support Grant funds, to provide assistance to hundreds of homeless persons in Virginia Beach, including:
- 1,195 bus tickets for travel to employment, educational opportunities, medical treatment, housing-related searches, etc.
- 263 prescriptions filled for 116 different individuals
- Identification cards for 226 individuals
- Distribution of basic survival supplies
“With the Donation Meter and Homeless Support Grant funds, we have been able to leverage existing programs and services provided by the city and our non-profit partners to directly help many more homeless persons who would have otherwise gone without this assistance,” said Andrew Friedman, director of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation. “We are excited about the opportunity to enhance our efforts to end homelessness in Virginia Beach by continuing the Donation Meter Program.”
The Donation Meter Program is an initiative of the Resort Advisory Commission, a City Council-appointed group that identifies resort-related issues and works together to address them.
For more information, contact Andrew M. Friedman at (757) 385-5752 or Mike Eason at (757) 385-6639.