Mayor's Office Press Release

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Faith Leaders Gather to Launch Meaningful Change Campaign
Mayor Turner and More Than 70 Faith Leaders Kick Off Public Awareness Campaign to Address Panhandling in the City

May 8, 2017 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner met with over 70 faith leaders representing diverse congregations from across Houston to launch the Meaningful Change- Not Spare Change campaign to address panhandling. The campaign is supported by faith leaders, non-profit agencies, civic associations, and the business community, and encourages Houstonians to donate to organizations that are ending homelessness instead of giving to panhandlers.

"Houstonians are compassionate and love helping people in need, but sometimes we can end up doing more harm than good," said Mayor Turner. "The Meaningful Change campaign lets Houstonians know that there is a better way to give. By contributing our "spare change" directly to organizations that are working to get our homeless neighbors off the streets and into housing, we can make "meaningful change" in the lives of our homeless."

The Meaningful Change campaign is just one part of the City's holistic approach to addressing homelessness. The Way Home, a collaborative of more than 100 partners- including the City of Houston - are working together to solve homelessness by getting homeless individuals into permanent housing as quickly as possible, and then providing them with voluntary supportive services to help them remain in housing. The Way Home is leading the nation in solving homelessness; since the collaborative began, more than 8,000 homeless individuals have been placed into permanent housing, and overall homelessness has decreased by more than 57% in Greater Houston.

"It is important to give, and equally important to give the right way. There is not a better way to give dignity to the homeless, than helping them to not be homeless in the first place," said Father Anil Thomas, Holy Name Catholic Church. "The Meaningful Change Campaign gives the homeless the dignity of housing."

"While we are called to help the least among us, we must work together to educate the community that our spare change does not help individuals off the streets, or get them the help they need the most," said Bishop E.L. Usher, Greater Outreach Grace Church. "The Meaningful Change campaign enables my congregation to transform lives."

The Meaningful Change campaign asks Houstonians to resist the urge to give to panhandlers, and instead invest in The Way Home. Houstonians can donate to the Meaningful Change campaign online at www.meaningfulchange.org. One-hundred percent of all donations will go directly to The Way Home's Welcoming Home Fund to help homeless individuals move off the streets into permanent housing by providing furniture, household basics, and housing deposits.

To reach all Houstonians, the campaign will utilize social media, 1,500 radio advertisements, and 55 signs and billboards to generate over 13.5 million impressions. The campaign is generously funded by iHeart Radio, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the business community.

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