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San Diegans Urged To ‘Make Change Count’ For Homeless Donations

Evening Edition

It's the season of giving and San Diego's downtown partnership wants to make change count, literally, by providing a variety of locations to donate money to help homeless people get off the street. KPBS reporter Dwane Brown was there at the unveiling of the new donation meters.

Aired 11/26/13 on KPBS News.

Those red things that look like parking meters you'll see around downtown beginning Monday are actually devices you can use to make donations for the homeless.

Those red devices that look like parking meters downtown Monday are for making donations to help the homeless.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership launched its Make Change Count initiative, in which people can stick their spare change into the machines. The donation stations also accept credit cards.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said San Diegans can “donate with confidence” during the holiday season because the money will go straight to programs that benefit the homeless.

“You know that the spare change rattling in your pocket will be used to provide needed services for homeless individuals,” Gloria said at a news conference. “And if you don't carry change, that's even better, because we can take your credit card.”

Downtown San Diego Partnership president and CEO Kris Michell said the funds will pay for a program that provides travel to homeless people from other cities that have family willing to accept them. She said the proceeds also pay for first and last month's rent and other necessities when they get into housing.

The programs have helped 650 people in downtown, she said.

“So, we're asking people to make change count, please don't give money directly to individuals, and put your money here,” Michell said.

The Make Change Count program is also designed to discourage panhandling.

San Diego Police Lt. Debra Farrar works with the department’s Homeless Outreach Team, and said The Make Change Count program also is designed to discourage panhandling.

“People want to give, but what happens though when they do give, that encourages more people to do more panhandling and sometimes it gets very aggressive,” Farrar said.

The program is funded in part by donations from Cox Communications and IPS Group, a San Diego-based firm that makes solar-powered marking meters. The partnership is made up of businesses and residents who work to improve the downtown area.

All donations will go directly to the designated programs for the homeless. Donations can also be made at participating restaurants and shops, and online at

City News Service contributed to this report.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | November 25, 2013 at 7:21 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

Red flags for me are "partnership" and "CEO".

So, how much of our donations into these red parking meeting looking devices will actually go to the homeless and how much will go to pay for this CEO's salary and other administrative charges?

Pan handling may be frowned upon, but at least I know that 100% of my "donation" is going towards the person to whom I donated my money.

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | November 25, 2013 at 7:42 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

Sadly 100% of your donation given directly to a person may actually go to a person who isn't really in need (in other words, someone posing as a person in more need than they really are) or may go to drugs/cigarrettes/alcohol (which you may feel is a good use of the money....that's up to you to decide). On the other hand, I don't like the idea of dropping money into what is basically a tube....I'd rather give to an organization that provides direct services to those in need. Downtown San Diego Partnership doesn't say where the funds will go. How secure are these things? Do I want to put my credit card in something that can be hacked? Do I get a receipt for taxes (yes, I'm not as pure of mind as some people). Think I'll pass on this until there's more information on how it really works.

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | November 25, 2013 at 10:44 a.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

When I heard this article on the radio this morning I thought, how absurd. How much money did the project cost to put together and how much to administer? Too much I imagine.

Why doesn't KPBS explore some of the workings of this thing?

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | November 27, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

Finally got a chance to watch the video (blocked from work) and they do mention at the end that donations are tax deductible. I then went online and read more details on their website. The donations are collected as the meters fill up and are turned over to the Downtown San Diego Partnership Foundation, a 501(c)3, which supports the Ending Homelessness Campaign.

So, I guess you could keep track of how much pocket change you drop into these meters and deduct that from your taxes.

Also, you can donate online and they'll send you a receipt:

Looks like a good program. And I agree with Dialyn. Giving to this program is better, since you know that the money won't be used for drugs or other illicit items.

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Avatar for user 'babybird722'

babybird722 | December 27, 2013 at 1:14 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

This idea is as brilliant as the $78 million dollar, 250 unit low income bldg on 9th and Broadway. In two years, at a cost of $312,000 per unit for studio and one bedroom apartments, 25 of of the 5000 un-sheltered homeless sleeping on concrete will be afforded with the opportunity to utilize section 8 vouchers for the next 40 years.

These same people complain about food stamps and the growing deficit. We can flat out build every one of the homeless a two bedroom house for less than this "low income" development is projected to cost... that is, if it does not go over budget and of course it will.

Until we stop this city from spending money recklessly, until we demand transparency and insist that they provide us with a return on these absurd schemes, they will continue to grow rich and we are growing poorer and poorer until soon we will join the homeless on the street.

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