Donation boxes not eliminating panhandling

Eight donation boxes are set up around downtown to donate to the homeless.
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INDIANAPOLIS - Donation boxes are set up in downtown Indianapolis to help the homeless and control panhandling.

Eight boxes have been installed since 2008, to allow people to put money in boxes instead of giving to panhandlers. But panhandlers are still hanging around the donation boxes, asking for handouts.

"They don't put it in the box," said one panhandler downtown. "Here? 40-50 bucks. Interstate? $300-400 dollars."

Anthony Marion didn't give money to a panhandler, but instead handed over a cigarette.

"Actually, I saw his sign and, you know, the truth will set you free. He said, 'Yeah, I guess'," Marion said. "So make of it what you will."

The Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention says only about one percent of people on streets asking for money are actually homeless, the rest are on the street looking to make a buck. Since the donation boxes were put up three years ago, $12,000 has been put in the boxes, which is then donated to local groups that combat homelessness around the city.

"It's impact is really very marginal, but at least that $12,000 got put in the place of helping some people that did need some help," said Tim Joyce, Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention.

Justin Baranowski, who says he has been homeless since losing his job about a year ago, relies on the $10-15 he receives every day just to get by.

"In the winter, they helped out tremendously," Baranowski said.

He is sticking to the streets and relying on public pity, he says, until he can land a job painting or in construction.

"I just know that I need some money to live day by day. There's no organization out there that's going to give me a bus pass to go look for work and they're not going to let me ride the bus for free. I mean, if you can't get to the shelter to meet a certain meal, then you're going to go hungry," Baranowski said.

Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention