Huntington Beach officials are betting special parking meters can help “change a life.”
“Giving meters” look like regular parking meters, but collect money for the homeless in order to discourage panhandling.
Collected change will go toward helping fund homeless services, such as the city Homeless Task Force’s case management program, Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta said in an interview Thursday.
“What we really want to do is fund programs that will get at the root cause of homelessness,” she said.
The first of three meters was recently installed downtown near the Starbucks on Main Street and Olive Avenue. Others are slated for the Central Library and Pier Plaza.
The council’s Homeless Subcommittee, which includes Semeta, as well as council members Barbara Delgleize and Patrick Brenden, brainstormed the idea.
Huntington Beach, like most of Orange County, is struggling to figure out how to address homelessness.
The city’s partnership with Westminster, the county and American Family Housing, a nonprofit that provides housing and other services to the homeless in hopes of expanding a shelter in Midway City, hit a standstill last year amid financial woes, according to city officials.
Semeta didn’t have an update on the shelter, but said “something hopefully will happen.”
Residents and tourists strolling through Surf City can do their part too, Semeta said.
“People ask us, ‘How can we help as a community?’ This is another way to help awareness as well as raise funds,” she said.