Preventing Panhandling and Promoting Change In Downtown Fargo

Fargo Business Improvement District and the FM Coalition for Homeless Persons have partnered up to say there are other ways to help

FARGO, ND — When you are walking down the street and a homeless person asks for some spare change, the jiggling in your pocket may push you to give back.

“We have kind hearted people in Fargo/Moorhead and that’s not going to change,” said Chris Schlepp, the Fargo BID Operations Manager.

But the Fargo Business Improvement District and the FM Coalition for Homeless Persons have partnered up to tell the community there are other ways to help.

“There was alternatives that they could help individuals. Maybe not on a one on one case but on a much larger scale,” explained Schlepp.

They have put up signs around downtown Fargo to encourage community members to stray away from panhandling.

“I’ve always been told that it’s better to give money to organizations that are helping the homeless than to give money directly to panhandlers,” said Paul Klapperich from Fargo.

There’s a bigger message behind these signs. It’s to make real change not to give your spare change.

The FM Coalition says the most important thing people can do to help is get educated.

“It’s really good to know and understand in our community many homeless individuals are employed, many are working very hard to get out of homelessness and so many of the stereotypes we have are just not apt,” said Cody Schuler, the Executive Director at the FM Coalition for Homeless Persons.

And right on the signs, is a phone number and website to get involved.

“Whether it’s rolling up their shirts sleeves and helping serve a meal or volunteering in some capacity or whether it would be actually donating money to our organization or to one of our partners,” said Schuler.

The groups are working to create a positive downtown environment for everyone.

They feel that regardless of your housing status, this place should feel like home.

“We can’t just push the homeless out of our community. But we do need to help them and the shelters and the homeless coalition, that’s what they are there for,” explained Klapperich.

The signs have been out for about two months and the groups say they try to put them out in the evening when panhandling is popular.

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