DETROIT, MI — Former Detroit coin-operated parking meters are being brought back to life.
A new charity drive is bringing uniquely colorful refurbished parking meters to the sidewalks of downtown Detroit, and the lobbies of some businesses, to collect money to combat the city’s homeless problem.
“Giving spare change to panhandlers is akin to giving a person a fish,” says a flyer issued by Detroit Donates, the organization behind the meters. “It may feed them for a day, but it does not teach them how to fish.
“Help break the cycle of panhandling and homelessness by contributing to efforts that empower individuals to deal wit the root causes of homelessness.
Called Detroit Donates is a collaboration between Councilwoman Mary Sheffield’s Homeless Task Force, the Downtown Detroit Partnership and Greektown Detroit and will allow businesses or individuals to sponsor a collection meter.
The funds raised will go directly to area nonprofit organizations who work with the city’s homeless population, says Paris Blessman, a staffer for Sheffield.
Blessman said there are different sponsorship tiers. For $1,500, a meter can be painted in the donors desired colors. For $7,500, a sign with the person or business’s name whill accompany the meter.
So far, there are five confirmed sponsors and installation of the meters could begin in December.
The design is expected to be unveiled at a Nov. 28 launch event, Blessman said.
City Council on Nov. 3 unanimously voted to allow the installation of the refurbished parking meters that will receive graffiti-style paint jobs distinguishing them from ordinary parking meters, which have since been replaced with digital self-serve payment kiosks in Detroit.
The number of Detroit homeless has been estimated as high as 20,000, while the number of beds in homeless shelters is about 2,000, according to figures cited by Heart to Hart, a homelessness nonprofit, two years ago.
According to the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness, there are nearly 35,000 homeless, including 5,500 children, within Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Monroe counties.