torrico.>>the reason we are here today is because we are engaging in montgomery county is a caring and compassionate county and we have made substantial efforts, even though we are an affluent county, we know we have a large community in poverty and we make every out — effort to help those in need. We are enlisting in the 100,000 homes campaign to identify medically vulnerable individuals and placing them in permanent, stable housing. At the same time as we are increasing our efforts to help those in need, we are getting more complaints from residents about panhandling. panhandling is not safe. And does not help those doing the begging. We are here today to encourage our residents to give, but not to give to panhandlers. We are here today as a result of a thorough effort under county executive leggett’ s leadership to identify cures for panhandling and poverty. I served on a task force on roadside solicitation. That task force was formed by my friend joan nermy. One of the primary recommendations of the task force was to engage in a dialogue with the public we are embarking on today. We want people to give, we do not want people to give to panhandlers. What montgomery county has done under county executive leggett’ s initiative, when you give, when you have maternal impulse, you can simply text “share” to 80077. Text “share” to 80077, and five dollars will be given to the montgomery county immunity foundation to support organizations like the ones that we will hear from today in a few minutes. Catholic charities, the montgomery county coalition for the homeless, montgomery cares, and others. County government is dedicated to helping those in need. Our nonprofit service organizations here are dedicated to helping those in need. but giving change to panhandlers does not help. A substantial proportion of panhandlers, according to literature, have substance abuse issues. A significant percentage of panhandlers are not homeless, even though they say they May be. I want to make sure that my donation goes to an organization that is bona fide, that uses the money for the purposes I want you to be used. When you give spare change to a panhandlers, you do not know how that money will be used. You do not know if they are suffering from the circumstances that he or she claims. What we encourage panhandlers and anyone else in need to do is to call 311 or our crisis center. County is here to help.>>the message has been clearly articulated by george on why we are doing this. I want to pay special attention to george and his work. It is one thing to come out here today and stand in front of the cameras and proclaim the need to help. It is another thing to work each and every day to make certain that, in this county of affluence, that we identify and recognize the problems in montgomery county. More importantly, work compassionately for it, day in, day out. Long after the cameras are gone. George leventhal has been a leader, a dogged fighter, to make sure that montgomery county recognizes we have a problem, and second, that we will do something about it. [Applause]>>I want you to remember one number and one word, share and 80077. We all have that instant response when we see someone standing on the streets or in the median with a signed saying, veteran, or homeless, need food, will work. We have seen no signs over the years. We have a need oftentimes to reach out and help , but that is not the most effective way in which we could help. First of all, it encourages a dangerous activity. Secondly, we are not certain of where those funds will go and whether that is the most effective way to help those in need. We have community organizations dedicated with staff and professionals who are here to help in the most compassionate and most effective way possible. Giving and encouraging those who are panhandling does not help us in this community. We recognize we have a problem. We are dedicated and committed to eliminating homelessness in montgomery county in all of its assets. We get that. But we cannot achieve the end result when we encourage and we have people participating in this. This is simply something that does not work. we have had numerous complaints about it. We know it is a challenge. And we know what these things can, in fact, do, and how it does not help the community. I am here to encourage the community to help us eliminate this problem with the most effective way to do so. If you have the urge to give, go to the telephone and text share to donate five dollars or what your heart desires. I want to thank councilmember george leventhal, coalition members, and all those responsible for helping us launch this important program today. This will be an aggressive, ongoing effort to make sure that we are successful. The department of health and human services, police, and county agencies are here to make sure that we get this message out.>>as a priest who drives a lot in the area, I am affected by a lot of people who say, can you help me? As a man who wears a collar, it is often hard to say no. The county gives all of us here so much support to work together , as a public-private ownership. How can we help you provide services? We know for a fact that when we get people that come to our shelters and place of service, that they are helped holistically, with food, abuse issues, homelessness, all kinds of ways. the reality is, at a street corner, even myself, I am not sure that the money will go to the right place. I call it a band-aid. It does not solve the problem. Come to a shelter, come to one of our service centers and they can be held and healed and find real services. We at catholic charities support the effort wholeheartedly. It would be hard to say no, but I want to tell people, we have services. We have a place to go in the county. Take it vantage of it. — advantage of it. We will do our best to make sure that the panhandlers will get what they need if they really need service, and those who do not need it will stop asking.>>we are one of a richer array of programs serving the homeless population, providing outreach, services, to moving people into permanent housing. I am honored to be here with county executive like it, council member levanthal today for this campaign. All of the organizations that have received support and funding know how to end homelessness for individuals, have the services to engage them, and we are eager to work with the county executive to make sure that we reach every single homeless person in the county and work to end their homelessness. As you have heard, panhandling is a complex issue. Not all panhandlers are homeless. not all homeless people are panhandlers. What is not complicated is the compassion that most feel when they see someone struggling and their desire to help. This is particularly heartfelt in a community that has been identified as one of the 10 wealthiest in the nation. The disparity between the rich and poor are even more stark here. So it makes sense people have the urge and want to give.>>I am here to support this for two main reasons, safety and equity. Saturday, I was driving on bradley boulevard crossing wisconsin avenue, and on the east side there was a guy carrying a sign that said homeless vet, please help. He is not homeless anymore but he has been on the streets for over 30 years and this is a hard thing to get away from. He has support, so the money is not necessarily going for the right use. He is also 72 years old and has a lot of health problems and is unsteady on his feet, so walking in and out of traffic, it is an accident waiting for — to happen. You all know us when we are driving. The light changes and people go. These kids are out in the middle of traffic. The equity part is more to what I speak to. A canadian researcher says that if you take 10 homeless people, eight of them could get out on their own, they do not need a lot of services. One might need subsidies, but only 10% of the people identified as homeless need very deep pocket for — services. Generally the people that we are talking about are too sick, too paranoid to seek help. They lived out in the woods, the metro stations. The county is doing a fantastic job. A lot of the people who are homeless are coming in asking for help. We are doing the 100,000 homes campaign where will be moved be looking for these phantom homeless. It will be an amazing campaign. I invite you to join us on this journey to end homelessness in the county.>>as you have heard, giving does help the immediate that does not address the long- standing issues of our homeless, veterans, or those panhandling. It is a temporary solution, not an ongoing solution. Today we have a wonderful chance to make a change, to make a difference, to give a hand up, not a handout. That is the difference today. Seeing individual on the street begging for money, it tugs at our hearts. When I am driving with my daughter, she says, you work for the county. How come you cannot help these people? i feel really strongly, I want to help, and that is my mommy still works for the county, but giving them money is not going to change the situation. Education, resources, providing them with the benefits they are entitled to, connect them to behavioral health, entitlement services. That is where the real help comes from.>>I am here on behalf of chief thomas manger because I am the traffic safety advocate. Standing on our roadsides, medians, and roadways to solicit money is dangerous, distracts drivers, indeed traffic, and is completely unnecessary. As a police professional, it is my job to be out in the roadways to direct traffic. I can tell you firsthand, it is very dangerous and deadly to be out there, but it is my job. For someone to go out voluntarily to solicit money just does not make sense. It is a really bad plan. Generally, panhandling is not a legal, but I also know when it is, conducting enforcement operations is difficult, ineffective, and is not a solution. It is working in a comprehensive plan, like what is proposed here today, that makes sense. It is the only way that we will be effective, as you have heard. We have seen many of the people out there soliciting money are simply falsely advertising. They are not homeless, not in need, just a business. So we need your help . I will give you a thought to think about before I go. In the movie ” field of dreams” they said, if you build it, they will come. For this I say, if you pay them, they will stay.