CHICAGO (CBS) — The organization behind StreetWise magazine is stepping up efforts to keep panhandlers off the streets and safe.
Workers were sent out to expressway ramps, handing out fliers educating drivers about homelessness. They advised anyone who sees someone panhandling to tell that person to come to StreetWise.
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The workers say this is the first time they have done anything like this, and they are hopeful it will work.
“We want to let people in need know that there are resources out there so they don’t have to resort to begging just to survive,” said StreetWise executive director Jim LoBianco. “StreetWise has been around for 20 years so people don’t have to panhandle. You can get a legitimate employment opportunity.”
A week ago, a woman was begging for money on the Pulaski Road ramp on the Stevenson Expressway, when she was hit and killed by a car.
StreetWise officials are trying to make sure those in need are not placed in danger.
“Anytime we hear of the death of a person in need, whether they freeze to death from exposure, or die from some act of violence or some accident because they’re not getting the help they need, it’s very difficult for the entire social service community,” LoBianco said.
StreetWise began in 1992, as a venture to help disadvantaged people in Chicago earn an income and learn employment skills. Vendors purchase copies of the magazine from the StreetWise agency for 75 cents per copy and sell it to the public for $2 per copy, generating a profit of $1.25 per copy.
StreetWise also provides direct connections to social service organizations, and operates a workforce resource center.