Homelessness is an issue in cities all over the country but Shreveport is working on a plan to end chronic homelessness. HOPE Connections is a collaboration of agencies and individuals who are working together to end homelessness. HOPE is a membership agency with monthly meetings designed to create collaboration, spread knowledge of available services, and explore the “big picture” of homelessness in Northwest Louisiana.
The Shreveport Downtown Development Authority (DDA) supports the efforts of HOPE Connections in working towards a more vibrant downtown and an end to chronic homelessness.
How You Can Help
We know it’s hard to turn down someone asking for money, especially if the person seems to be in dire need. Instead of giving cash, though, consider giving something that will truly help- a Hand Up Card from Hope Connections. This bus pass pays for a trip to the Hope Connections facility on Levy Street, a one-stop campus of help. These cards will do two things- truly help those with real needs and cut down on panhandling by others. To get some cards, call 318-670-4591.
Tips for Handling Panhandlers
- Don’t give money to panhandlers. Aggressive panhandling will stop when people stop rewarding such behavior – it’s that simple.
- Acknowledge a panhandler with a nod and answer the request for money by simply saying “no.” Don’t allow a panhandler to engage you in conversation; after saying “no,” just walk away.
- Walk with confidence and don’t be intimidated – the streets of our city belong to ALL of us.
- Call the police if you ever feel threatened or harassed in any way. Panhandling is illegal in the City of Shreveport, Louisiana.
- REMEMBER: Food, shelter, clothing, counseling, medical and job assistance are available for all who wish to receive these services.
- Report panhandlers to the police (non-emergency number): 318-673- 2583, then press “3.” Call as quickly as you can after your encounter and describe the location and the clothing the panhandler is wearing. You do not need to give your name if you choose not to.
Panhandling is illegal under Section 50-166 of the Shreveport Code of Ordinances. Under the Ordinance you cannot:
- Use the spoken, written or printed word to beg for money
- Follow you after you say “no”
- Verbally threaten or insult you
- Ask for money on either public or private property
Why should panhandling be discouraged?
- Panhandling sustains someone’s life on the streets, which may include a drug or alcohol addiction or ongoing mental illness.
- Panhandlers can use the money to buy alcohol and drugs rather than goods and services to improve their condition.
- Giving panhandlers small amounts of money is insufficient to address the underlying circumstances that cause them to panhandle.
- Social services are able to meet panhandlers’ food, clothing, shelter, health care and employment needs. Some people do not understand the relationship between panhandling and substance abuse, or are unaware of available social services, however obvious these factors seem to police.
- Presence of panhandlers affects the ways others perceived and use public places
- Homelessness is not synonymous with the act of panhandling. Studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.
- Most panhandlers are not interested in regular employment, particularly minimum-wage labor, which they believe would scarcely be more profitable than panhandling.
The following agencies assist those struggling with homelessness and poverty. Learn more about how they are helping change the lives of those in need:
Volunters of America
Catholic Charities of Shreveport
The Hub Ministry
Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission
Council on Alcoholism
Community Support Program
First Methodist Church
VA Homeless Program
St. Joseph Catholic Church
Social Security Administration
MLK Health Center
Louisiana Center for Compulsive Gambling
Housing Authority City of Shreveport
Housing Authority of Bossier City
Northwest Louisiana Food Bank
Easter Seals of Louisiana
Office of Behavorial Health, Region VII