Minutes of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Downtown Outreach Work Group Meeting

Friday, October 13, 2006† 8:00† a.m.

Bill Cherry Board Room, Bank of America Center,† Downtown Chapel Hill, NC

 

Committee Members Present: Andrea Rohrbacher; Chris Moran; Tatiana Hodapp; Kate Flory, Barbie Schalmo; Wilson Weed;

Sally Greene; Jackie Carden; Liz Parham, Executive Director

 

Committee Member Absent: Luke Smith; Mark Farrell; Luke Smith; Emily Cameron

 

Others Present:† DTH Reporter; CH Herald Reporter

 

The meeting was called to order by Liz Parham, Executive Director.† She asked everyone to begin by introducing themselves.

 

Minutes

Kate Flory made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 14th meeting as written.† Barbie Schalmo seconded the motion.† The motion carried 8-0.

 

Future Committee Name & Meeting Schedule

Liz Parham asked the committee what they wished to be called since the Giving Kiosk Task Force was not quite fitting.† She tossed out Social Issues, Panhandling, or Safety.† Barbie Schalmo mentioned that another town had adopted the name Downtown Outreach.† The committee liked that name and Barbie Schalmo made a motion to adopt the name Downtown Outreach Work Group.† Chris Moran seconded the motion.† The motion carried 8-0.

 

Ms. Parham asked how often and when they wanted to meet.† ††The work group unanimously agreed to meet once a month on a Thursday morning from 8:00 Ė 9:30 a.m.† Liz Parham agreed to send an email back around to the committee members to determine the best Thursday of the month.

 

The Purpose

The mission of the Downtown Outreach Work Group is to manage the impact of social and behavioral issues in Downtown Chapel Hill

 

Giving Kiosk

Liz Parham reported that the CHDP Board of Directors had met and had accepted the recommendations that were made by the task force, but had asked for her to meet again with the task force and make sure that they were not interested in pursing the giving kiosk since the donor was not interested in funding anything else. Chris Moran noted that he felt that the task force needs time to look at a number of different options and that the task force needs quality time to have in-depth conversations and to develop practical approaches to the problems.† He felt it would be better to have the philosophical discussions about the message that we want to convey †before we come up with any concrete solutions.† Sally Greene and Kate Flory reiterated Mr. Moranís comments.† The task force unanimously agreed.

 

In addition, Ms. Greene noted that she had recently heard the Mayor of Gastonia speak about their initiatives to address similar issues and recommended that we contact the City of Gastonia and perhaps consider bringing them to Chapel Hill.† Liz Parham will contact her counterpart in Gastonia and Barbie Schalmo and Wilson Weed agreed to do a little research on Gastoniaís initiatives.

 

Madison, WI

Chris Moran discussed the research that he had done on Madisonís programs and discussed a tour of downtown that Liz Parham, Andrea Rohrbacher, he, and others went on while on the intercity visit to Madison, WI.††† They have a program called Reach Out.† It is not a program of social workers but an intervention program.† IFC has one pathways funded position that is a clinical social worker position.† There is currently a debate as to whether that position should be a clinical social worker or someone that can do intervention work.† Pathways positions are only allowed to work with someone that is mentally ill.† The Madison program has four people constantly doing intervention work and they are plugging people into programs through these efforts.†† In addition, Andrea Rohrbacher noted that through the monitoring/ intervention approach there seemed to be a lot more collaboration between agencies in Madison than here in Chapel Hill.†

 

Mr. Moran also noted that in Madison there was a lot less distinction between homelessness and panhandling.† In Chapel Hill there is a lot more distinction.† Few panhandlers in Chapel Hill are actually homeless; however, some of the people that use the kitchen are some of the ones panhandling.

 

Additional Members to the Committee

Liz Parham noted that she and Chris Moran had discussed ways of incorporating this committeeís work into the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.† They both felt that it would be beneficial to have someone representing that effort on the Downtown Outreach Work Group.†† †Sally Greene recommended that Liz Parham call Tara Fikes and ask who she would recommend.

 

In addition, Chris Moran recommended that we include Carrboro in this work group so that the solutions to the problems could be seamless.

 

Liz Parham also noted that Lynn Blanchard from UNC was not going to be able to stay on the work group but that she would find someone else from UNC.† Also, Elizabeth Taylor had notified her that she was not going to be able to stay on the work group.

 

Panhandling Ordinances

Liz Parham began the discussion by noting that the approach was only part regulatory and part more innovative solutions. She offered the committee a comparison of Chapel Hillís ordinance to Madisonís.† In addition, Barbie Schalmo and Wilson Weed, students in the Urban and Regional Planning Masters and Undergrad degree programs respectively, had done some additional research on the ordinances. ††Sally Greene was troubled with regulating panhandling through ordinances and was hoping that that was not the approach this committee was going in.† Barbie Schalmo noted that she felt it was important to simply understand the differences.† A number of communities allow panhandling in certain zones.† A lot of the ordinances have a certain distance from certain buildings or donít allow panhandling near ATM machines, outdoor dining or public transportation.† Some cities require the panhandler to register, as in Durham.†

 

Chris Moran recommended that Ms. Schalmo and Mr. Weed contact the National Coalition for Homelessness to find out their perspective of panhandling ordinances that work and if not, what is working.† Sally Greene noted that many of the panhandling ordinances are very subjective.

 

Chris Moran added that part of the problem is that there isnít anywhere to just go hang out in Chapel Hill and added that the shelter used to be open during the day but funding cut backs made that impossible.

 

Sally Greene would recommend that this work group not bring up a discussion on ordinances with the Town Council.† Jackie Carden noted that on May 1st it became illegal to panhandle in the intersection and that has been very effective.† Ms. Carden noted that the panhandlers themselves are very territorial and that several of them tend to keep others off ďtheirĒ block.

 

Chris Moran added that what he has found does work is to trespass someone off a piece of property.† That wonít work for Franklin Street, but will work for some businesses.† Liz Parham noted that thatís why so many towns had in their ordinances that panhandling is not allowed within a certain radius of a doorway, to address streets like Franklin Street.† Sally Greene felt like it would be hard to find any spot on Franklin Street that wasnít within a certain distance from a doorway and therefore wouldnít be acceptable for Chapel Hill.

 

Sally Greene recommended that we work with the ordinance that we have rather than change the ordinance.† Chris Moran recommended that we train local people as trainers which can work one-on-one with anyone that has concerns.

 

Chris Moran mentioned the statistic that Liz Parham quoted at the last meeting which stated that 10-60% of all people give to panhandlers but 50-60% of all students give to panhandlers. †He recommended developing an educational program on campus.† Jackie Carden reported that the police do make a 15-minute presentation on safety with the incoming freshman.† Mr. Moran recommended expanding that to include others along with the police.† In addition, Lt. Carden reported that the police also provide information for the camp counselors to give out to the sports camps.† Lt. Carden agreed that it needs to be a community effort and a community message.

Barbie Schalmo and Wilson Weed presented a series of ideas that other towns had tried which included:

* Ms. Schalmo and Mr. Weed will write up their findings and get to Liz Parham for distribution.

 

Chris Moran noted that we donít understand why panhandlers panhandle.† Jackie Carden added that Chapel Hill has a good reputation for helping people so a lot of the people that we see on the street come from all over.† Mr. Moran added that there has to be a connection with the major institutions, John Umstead and UNC Hospitals because they are releasing people without an exit plan and they end up on the streets.† Mr. Moran added that 30,000 offenders are released each year in North Carolina and 30% of them will become homeless.

 

Kate Flory said that we need to come up with the message first.† Mr. Moran added that we need to develop a vision of what we are trying to communicate.† Mr. Weed added that he would like to set up something in the pit and get more information from the students about how they would like to be better informed about these issues.

 

It was recommended that we develop a student committee that can help to educate other students once we determine what the message is.

 

Next Steps

For the next meeting, the committee will work to develop the message and to determine who the target markets are.†† Then they will determine ways to convey †the message to the different target markets.

 

Chris Moran added that a great place to advertise the message once we know what that message is, is on the town buses.

 

The work group will meet again in November.

 

Adjourn

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted by,
Liz Parham, Executive Director