Executive Director Christine Gregory of Dove, Inc., kicked off the Macon County Homeless Continuum of Care by challenging a common perception about homelessness.
“We have also noticed an increase in panhandling along the Business 51 corridor in Decatur,” she said. “Often the signs they carry claim they are homeless and they are hungry.
“But they are not homeless, they are making a killing, and our citizens are supporting manipulative entrepreneurship.”
Gregory said the Rev. Stacey Brohard, executive director of the Good Samaritan Inn; Jeff Mueller, director of men's services at the Salvation Army; and Todd Tuggle, director of the Oasis Day Center, have regularly gone out to speak with the people holding signs and been told their help is not needed.
She added that panhandlers in Decatur have been able to take in as much as $100 per person per day.
“This is a concomitant loss in funding and support for programs which actually benefit actual homeless people,” Gregory said.
It also means 15 to 25 panhandlers can raise between $547,500 and $912,500 annually, compared to $790,791 allocated this year for programs benefiting the homeless in Decatur, she said.