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Common council approves employment program for panhandlers

South Bend, Ind.—

Monday, the city's Common Council passed a resolution a challenging the mayor’s office to set money aside for a program that would take folks off the streets and put them to work.

The original resolution called for the administration to mark $20,000 in the 2018 budget for a pilot employment program for panhandlers.

The amended resolution passed Monday allows the mayor to set the dollar amount.

“We have to take care of this issue now, we can wait until 2019, 2020, panhandlers are a part of our communities now,” said Oliver Davis, South Bend common councilman.

Davis drafted the resolution after exploring similar programs in cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Portland, Maine.

“We have to do it now, we have to encourage our city to put dollars in and we have to encourage our county to put dollars in,” said Davis.

But the Mayor Pete Buttigieg says solving this problem might not be so simple.

“The spirit of the resolution is something we welcome,” said Mayor Buttigieg. “But you can’t just cut a check and expect for the problem to just go away and while we do believe in piloting new approaches to see if they work for us, it’s just a little soon for us to know that’s going to be the right answer for us in this case.”

The mayor’s office has been in talks with cities pushing this program for years.

But he says his administration would like to invest in already established resources first.

“Before we are to commit, for example, to funding a particular program, we want to continue developing the work that we’d been doing,” he said.

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