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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Mar. 4, 2019 2 months ago

How to help the homeless

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Charity donations are most effective
by: Guest Writer

Have you been approached by someone asking you if you can spare a dollar or two while at a gas station, parking lot or stopped at a red light? Sure, we all have. Have you ever given a panhandler any money? Maybe you have. Maybe once. That one time because you believed it was going to go toward helping someone. Do you ever wonder how they've spent it? Was it for gas or food? We've all heard it or have read the signs: "I just need a few bucks for gas to get home," "hungry" or "why lie? I need a beer."

Some of you may have heard about the new "panhandling ordinance" that just went into effect in Daytona Beach. The new ordinance the Daytona Beach City Commission passed doesn't "solve the problem." More government involvement rarely does. It moves it to surrounding cities, like Ormond Beach. You probably already have noticed an increase in panhandling activities in Ormond Beach.

What you may not have noticed is a new "homeless donation meter." Residents and visitors to Daytona Beach can now give money to help local homeless programs like Halifax Urban Ministries, First Step Shelter, Travelers Aid Program and Hope Place. Ten such meters have been donated to Daytona Beach by IPS Group Inc., a meter company headquartered in San Diego, California. These meters have the ability to collect donations by Visa or Master Card (minus a small transaction fee), as well as pocket change. Dr. L Ronald Durham, community relations manager for Daytona Beach, was featured in a video introducing this new program.

The First Step homeless shelter being built on International Speedway Boulevard is well over the original estimated cost of between $2 and $3 million when funding by local municipalities was approved and now sits at $6 million. Ormond Beach City Commission approved $82,000 of taxpayer funds towards the First Step shelter back in July of 2017. But the First Step shelter is losing about $7,600 per month due to salary and other expenses. The funding gap will have to be provided by the private sector. If not, taxpayers may in fact be forced to pay again. Will Big Business, which has received tax breaks by local government at the expense of other taxpayers in recent years, totaling more than the cost of the shelter, take the first step to meet the funding gap? Not likely.

I'm not a fan of the Income Tax (or any tax). Do you realize those panhandlers pay ZERO in income tax? That's right! Because their income has already been taxed by the person handing over those dollars — YOU. And those kinds of donations are not tax deductible.

Solution: If you want to actually solve a perceived problem, more government and more Big Business influence won't fix it. If it did, those problems wouldn't exist. It starts with you. If you are like most people, you want to help the homeless but not see the panhandlers. The best way to start is by no longer handing over cash to those on the street and instead donate to your favorite charity. Do that and you'll never have to worry about how your donated dollars are spent. But you can’t do it alone. Speak with your local friends, family, co-workers and anyone else you hear talking about this issue and educate them on the best solution.

Joe Hannoush

Ormond Beach

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