Red Meters Around Town Help Homeless

The meters provide a way to donate to needy and combat panhandling

Those red meter-like structures around town aren’t another way for the city to make money off you for parking.

They are part of an initiative from the Downtown San Diego Partnership to combat homelessness while also serving to discourage panhandling.

The meters, which are part of the group’s “Make Change Count” program, take donations from people looking to help out those less fortunate. Funds go directly to the Ending Homelessness Campaign, a non-profit that helps those in need by providing move-in kits, hygiene kits and job interview assistance. People can put change into the meters or donate with their credit cards, either at the meter or at the group’s website.

There are now 20 different meters around town, with another 15 planned for the start of the year.

“We want to encourage people to give responsibly,” said Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “Over the holidays everybody wants to give. That money can be better utilized in targeted programs to get people off the street.”

The initiative is patterned after a similar program in Denver, which is in the midst of what it calls a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. According to Michell, the Denver program reduced panhandling by nearly 80 percent.

“It was significant. And most importantly, it raised money to get people off the street,” she said.

The solar-powered meters were donated by Integrated Protection Services, a Carlsbad-based engineering company that specializes in parking meter technology. The goal is to offset future overheard costs by having sponsors pay the cost of meter purchases and installations, around $1,500.

The partnership also provides a Work Your Way Home program, which helps reunite homeless people with their families in exchange for community service. Michell said they have reunited almost 150 people with their families through the program.

“We all need infrastructure in life,” Michell said. “And the best way is through family.”

You can donate at the following locations or online:

  • Broadway Circle, Horton Plaza
  • 1st Avenue Entrance, Horton Plaza
  • 600 West Broadway, One American Plaza, Irvine Company
  • 101 West Broadway, Irvine Company
  • 225 Broadway, Irvine Company
  • 401 B Street, Irvine Company (Wells Fargo Building)
  • 1050 Park Blvd, Smart Corner
  • 1 Market Place, Manchester Grand Hyatt
  • 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina
  • One Park Boulevard, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
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