Can Parking Meters Help The Homeless In Downtown Phoenix?

Published: Monday, March 4, 2019 - 8:28am
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - 11:48am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A standard parking meter in downtown Phoenix.

While visiting Laguna Beach, California, a couple years ago, something caught Phoenix Councilwoman Debra Stark’s eyes.

“I saw these really cool meters, parking meters, with a lot of cool artwork,” she said.

The meters were designed for people to donate money to help the homeless. Stark asked city staff to research the concept and are now ready to launch a pilot program downtown if approved.

Deputy City Manager Karen Peters told a council subcommittee on Feb. 26, the meters will be installed at four intersections.

“They’ll be in a place that’s accessible and visible to pedestrians but not at what appears to be a parking location,” she said.

Donations could be accepted by change or credit card. The proceeds would go to PHX C.A.R.E.S., the city’s homeless outreach program.

Much Needed Funds

Marchelle Franklin, human services director, said donations could be spent on things like eyeglasses and gift cards.

“You have individuals that you’ve placed in housing. We get them into housing, but there aren’t things like sheets and towels,” she said. “We often fund hygiene kits so toothbrush, toothpaste. For women, feminine products.”

If the council approves the program, Phoenix would spend about $900 on the parking meter pilot. After six months, staff would report back on how much was raised and how it was spent.

While many cities across the country have parking meter donation programs, Peters said success varies widely depending on the location of meters and other factors.

When asked how much Phoenix expects to raise, Peters said, “If they are to be as successful as others we could experience as much as $1000 per meter per year.”

“I hope it’s successful,” Stark said. “If it is, I would like to see it citywide. Maybe putting them in front of libraries and community centers so that everyone [can] do healthy giving, which I think is the theme — we need to give in a healthy way.”

Local artists would be involved in designing the meters and work with Artlink Phoenix and Downtown Phoenix, Inc. to submit proposals.

DPI conducted pedestrian counts at 14 intersections downtown and based on high pedestrian activity chose the following locations for the pilot program:

  • Northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and Washington Street.
  • Northwest corner of 1st Avenue and Jefferson Street.
  • Northwest corner of Central Avenue and Adams Street.
  • Northeast corner of 3rd and Van Buren streets.

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