To: Chapel Hill Town Council
From: Liz Parham, Executive Director
Date: October 23, 2006
RE: Recommendations from the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Giving Kiosk Task Force
On June 26, 2006, the Chapel Hill Town Council directed the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to establish a Giving Kiosk Task Force that would determine if the concept of developing a giving kiosk is an effective tool in addressing the social and behavioral issues that surround panhandling in downtown Chapel Hill, and in encouraging citizens to make donations to agencies that provide services for those in need.
If the task force determined that the giving kiosk was an effective tool that should be pursued, then they were directed to recommend a process that would:
1. Determine how the project would be advertised.
2. Provide the best means of gathering citizen input on the project.
3. Determine how the artist and design for the project would be selected.
4. Determine how the best location would be selected.
The Downtown Partnership recommended that the makeup of the task force should consist of representatives from the Downtown Partnership and Public Arts Commission, a member of the Town Council and/or Town staff, downtown business and property owners, human service agencies, and representatives of the University of North Carolina.
Giving Kiosk Task Force Meeting
On Thursday, September 14, 2006, the task force met at 8:00 a.m. in the Bill Cherry Board Room of the Bank of America Center in Downtown Chapel Hill. Members present included:
Members that were not in attendance included:
Recommendations of the Giving Kiosk Task Force
1. The Giving Kiosk Task Force unanimously recommends that the issue of panhandling should be addressed as a community-wide concern that exacerbates the real and perceived concerns about safety in downtown and hinders the economic vitality of the downtown business district.
2. The Task Force recommends that the Giving Kiosk should not be developed as a tool to address this concern at this time. The task force initially felt that the funds could be used more effectively in other ways and was hopeful that the private donor would be interested in remaining in the broader project. The donor has since withdrawn from the project, noting that the Giving Kiosk was never intended as the only solution to the problem but one that he could do to help counter the negative impact of panhandling. In addition, the task force feels that it is important to first develop the message before determining the tools that will carry the message forward.
3. The task force recommends that a broad based committee of community leaders, with a make-up similar to the original task force, be appointed by CHDP as an ongoing Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Work Group. The work group will be charged with managing the impact of social and behavioral issues in Downtown Chapel Hill.
4. On September 29, 2006, the CHDP Board of Directors met and adopted the recommendations made by the Giving Kiosk Task Force and authorized the formation of the work group. The group is comprised of representatives from the Town of Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina, downtown business and property owners, human service agencies and others. The work group met again on October 13, 2006, and named themselves the Downtown Outreach Work Group. They will meet once a month on the Thursday morning. (Recurrence yet to be determined.)
5. As the next step, the Downtown Outreach Work Group recommends a public-private partnership effort amongst the Town of Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina, the Downtown Partnership, the human service agencies, the downtown property and business owners, religious organizations, the media and others, to jointly develop “the message” to request that citizens not give money to panhandlers in downtown Chapel Hill but to encourage them to give to the agencies that address the human service needs of downtown. Once the message is clearly articulated, then the means and materials needed to address the target audiences will be identified. This is similar to efforts across the country typically called Real Change Not Spare Change campaigns. Raleigh is our closest neighbor that has adopted this program. In Denver, they have adopted the Give A Better Way campaign, www.giveabetterway.com; and there are a number of other variations on this type of educational initiative.
6. In addition, the Work Group recommends that Chapel Hill develop a downtown outreach intervention program to serve the homeless and panhandling population, similar to efforts that were observed in Madison, Wisconsin and efforts in Burlington, Vermont. Different from clinical social workers, this program uses intervention methods to strive to get individuals off the streets. It is envisioned that there will be a community-wide fund raising effort for this program.
7. The Work Group recommends that as they are developing the program of work that they also spend some time exploring alternative options to the “Giving Kiosk” as a tool that could be developed. Some options discussed include:
The Downtown Outreach Work Group will begin meeting in November as an official Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership committee. Barbie Schalmo, a UNC graduate student in the Masters Degree program of Urban and Regional Planning and Wilson Weed, a UNC undergraduate student working towards a minor in Urban and Regional Planning, both under the supervision of Professor Bill Rohe, will assist this work group in conducting research of similar programming across the country.