HomeNewsCrime & CourtsSalvation Army Has New Plan to Curtail Aggressive Panhandling

Salvation Army Has New Plan to Curtail Aggressive Panhandling

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The Salvation Army has long advised against the public giving money to homeless people who beg at gas stations, outdoor cafes and street corners. Now, it is launching a new effort to curtail panhandling in the form of a simple card.

The business card-sized pieces of paper are being distributed through the Kroc Center and are being given out to business owners downtown who routinely have homeless people loitering near their shops.

MORE: Groups Split Up the Search for Answers to Homelessness in Augusta

One side of the card lists all of the free services provided by the Salvation Army including food, shelter and help with utilities. The other side of the card is a free bus ticket to the Center Of Hope shelter on Greene Street.

The front and back of the card. Images courtesy Salvation Army

The cards were designed and are being supplied to the Salvation Army free of charge by TranterGrey Media.

According to director of development for the Salvation Army, Derek Dugan, many times, homeless people will try to gain sympathy by telling their panhandling targets that shelters are trying to raise the $5 fee to stay in the homeless shelter. However, Dugan said that is a ruse as the shelter does not charge people to be allowed to stay.

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Dugan said handing the cards to someone panhandling is a polite way to potentially help the homeless person and avoid contributing to a destructive lifestyle.

“No one in Augusta has to be homeless; we have the resources to help people. No one should be sleeping on the streets,” Dugan said.

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According to Dugan, the Salvation Army conducts a yearly count of the homeless population in Augusta, but the numbers are nowhere near empirical. Dugan said a rough estimate would be north of 800 people.

“Those numbers do not account for people sleeping on couches and people temporarily staying with family members,” Dugan said.

However, despite the staggering numbers, the Salvation Army has experienced success in providing individuals and families escape the life of desperation on the streets. According to Dugan, the Salvation Army successfully found permanent homes for 49 people in 2020 and 48 so far this year.

Dugan said it normally takes an average of 72 days to help a homeless person or family get settled into a permanent home. Finding affordable housing is only one part of the challenge.

“We have to take it on a case by case basis. A lot of it is the background issues we have to clean up. We have to make sure they don’t have outstanding bills that will stop them being able to hook up utilities. People who haven’t paid their child support have their driver’s licenses revoked, and we have to help them work through that so they can get a job and support themselves,” Dugan said.

Despite the fact that the shelter on Greene Street stays at maximum capacity on most nights, the Salvation Army has been able to reconfigure the facility so that families are not separated within the facility. Dugan said the Salvation Army considers its efforts to build a new facility top priority, but the effort will take time.

Dugan said that his steering committee is working diligently to craft a strategic plan for a new shelter which involves finding a location and developing a capital funding project. Over the next three months, the Salvation Army will hold several community forums to gain citizen input at the Kroc Center.

According to Dugan, the study will include input from the homeless population as well.

“The key takeaway is that our study will determine the current and future needs. If our study determines we have an increase in homeless families — which I think it will — then we will design the new facility accordingly,” Dugan said.

Scott Hudson is the Senior Reporter for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected]

11 COMMENTS

  1. There needs be some way to get loiterers away from Greene Street near Salvation Army building and stop their loitering in front of Sacred Heart Cultural Center. I thought that SA facility was to be relocated elsewhere. SA does great work but please don’t direct the poor homeless to Greene St. a main corridor of Augusta.

    • Morning! Please know we are very supportive of the downtown businesses in Augusta and are planning a new shelter location away from this area. The creation of a day shelter, which doesn’t exist right now, is an answer much to the loitering issues you are talking about also.

    • Thank you! We are giving these cards out to the community and the biggest help we need now is getting them to everyone. If this is widespread, and people asking for help know they will never get money – but this referral – then people who need help will get it and people who want a handout will move on.

  2. The current Salvation Army shelter is over 50 years old and obviously cannot continue to adequately serve the greatly increased numbers of the homeless in our community. The “card program” is a small step in the right direction, but is only one of several efforts by the Salvation Army to help. The leadership of Augusta, both public and private, recognize that we now have a substantial and growing homeless population. Sadly the incredibly complex issue of homelessness is now compounded by the sheer volume of people in need. Fortunately, many groups and agencies, including the Salvation Army are coming together to see how each can best contribute to solutions. When the opportunity arises, I hope that everyone will be willing to assist in bringing these solutions to fruition.

  3. I wonder if people who frequently encounter panhandlers could buy those cards for a dollar or so from the SA? It would financially help the SA, offer the panhandler some assistance, and the giver would benefit from the giving and not be out any more cash than they would have had they given money to the panhandler.

  4. While the Salvation Army formulates and executes effective plans to assist the homeless. Augusta-Richmond County forms committees that include politicians who bring little to the table as solutions. Governments rarely solve a social problem as well as a non-government agency, charity, or private business. Please publish where and how to get the cards and provide them to RCSO personnel who often interface with the homeless. Thanks.

    • Thank you Tedd – the cards are available at the Kroc Center and the cards are also in the hands of law enforcement. If you know of businesses or connections that want to help get these out there, please reach out and let us know!

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