Kudos to Shawn Vestal for his Sept. 27 article defusing stereotypes about downtown. Our downtown serves as the public living room not only for upscale shoppers and financial district employees, but for people seeking connection who have no better place to go.
That includes teenagers who don’t fit in their schools or homes and are searching for identity; people living in single-room occupancies; workers using the bus. Very few of them are dangerous. While a few of them are offensive, all the more reason not to relinquish the downtown to them but continue normal patterns of use.
It is good to see Spokane City Council developing a strategy that includes access to services. I wish a coalition of service groups would sponsor a dollar bill-size flier that one can hand to panhandlers in lieu of money.
Such a flier would list the most central referral points for the variety of food, health, income-assistance (utility bill) services. We could buy those fliers and thereby help fund the services, while providing us a way to show recognition to panhandlers. It would also send a signal to panhandlers, referring those honestly needing help to more appropriate venues and dissuading fraudulent manipulators.