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Pasadena Installs Controversial Parking Meters Used To Collect Donations For The Homeless

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The city of Pasadena has installed two new parking meters, but not for the goal of milking us parking regulation-abiding citizens for more money. Instead, the two bright orange meters will be used to collect donations to help the homeless.

The two repurposed parking meters are a part of the Real Change Movement, aimed at raising awareness and funds for Pasadena's homeless problems. The meters work like normal parking meters and are designed to give the public comfort knowing that their money will be put towards good use. "This is a clear alternative where people contributing know that all the money will go to effective services," Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang told the LA TImes.

One-hundred percent of the donations collected by the meters go towards service programs, with the United Way of Los Angeles leveraging the donations "to maximize their use" according to a press release. Despite the initiative, members of the community it aims to benefit remain skeptical.

"It's a nice idea, but we don't get that money," said Holly Johnson, a homeless woman in Pasadena. She also added that nonprofits don't always provide the homeless with specifically what they need, and stressed that homeless women can use the money they raise on their own to pay for hotel rooms where they can sleep safely at night.

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Officials argue that the meters reassure the public that donations won't be spent on drugs or alcohol, as 44 percent of surveyed panhandlers in San Francisco admitted to doing with the money they collect. Homeless advocates see it as deterrents to push the homeless community away, as was the case of meters installed in Denver and San Diego. "If we would get serious about addressing the actual economic and social issues that we find so offputting, we wouldn't need meters," said Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project.

For now there are only two such meters in Pasadena, with a dozen more coming to that city and the possibility of some in downtown L.A. In the three weeks since they were first installed they have only collected $270.