United Way Of Fort Smith Addresses Panhandling Issue With Community Resource Guide

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — City leaders and organizations like the United Way of Fort Smith have come up with a resource guide, with a list of services available in the community to help people struggling to buy food or pay their bills.

For one man, who chose to remain anonymous, panhandling on the side of the road is a last resort. He says it's not something he likes doing.

He was working, but after his father recently died, he missed a couple of days of work and lost his job.

He's now sleeping in a car with his wife and two cats. He says the bible verse, John 3:16, saved his life.

"When I held the homeless sign, I didn't have any luck and I was reading my bible and God told me to spread the word so, as soon as I did that, I went from maybe not eating at all to being able to make it some days but some days not," he said.

Next Step Homeless Services is one of the many community partners hoping to provide information to people who need it.

"Not only the people who might be asking for money from people on the street but also the public so, they could know instead of giving them money," said Sharon Chapman, Next Step Homeless Services Executive Director

According to a city spokesperson, most panhandlers in the area are people who work but don't quite earn enough to make ends meet.

They say instead of giving those people money, give them a flyer with information on services like local food pantries, shelters, and a crisis hotline.

"There's really not a need for people to be on the corner asking for things because we have those resources here in our community, and I think sometimes that only hurts those that are actually homeless," said Chapman.

To print a copy of the flyer click here.

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