The nine vibrant orange, refurbished parking meters that were installed in 2014 in high foot traffic areas of the city that collect donations to help end homelessness raised $8,000 last year and helped place 20 homeless individuals off the streets and into permanent housing, according to a memorandum from the Department of Housing.
“This is a public education movement. The only thing that ends someone’s homelessness is giving them a permanent place to live. It is important to remember this public information campaign is not about telling people not to give, rather they should give, but in doing so they should give in a way that creates real change,” said City of Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang.
The Real Change Movement is the first initiative of its kind within Los Angeles County to help provide homes for the homeless through the small change and credit card donations made through uniquely designed meters. It is a collaboration between Art Center, PCC, the Dept. of Housing and local non-profit The Flintridge Center who coordinates the movement in several capacities.
“Our goals are to continue to provide information so that the community is well informed about homelessness in our community and in the region, and to continue to install additional donation meters each year so that community members can support homeless solutions,” said Flintridge Center President Jaylene Moseley who is responsible for for identifying locations, communicating with owners and tenants to secure approval, and coordinating installation and maintenance of the donation meters.
The Real Change Movement’s visual and messaging concept was designed Art Center College of Design’s DesignMatters students then taken from concept to implementation by Saeche, a professional advertising firm. Together they designed what the city calls “a uniquely positive and visually appealing public information campaign” on the issue of homelessness.
“Last year, we helped to permanently house 20 community members. We hope to double that number this year,” explained Moseley.
The first fiscal year of 2014-2015 the meters were installed raised $4,000 in public donations with the United Way of Greater LA providing a dollar for dollar match that doubled all donations made to the meters totaling $8,000, according to Huang.
Each meter is sponsored by a Pasadena business with a $1,500 price tag that covers the cost of installation, maintenance and marketing. The overall program is designed to encourage people to give with confidence.
“Giving with confidence means that you can be sure that the donation you make goes towards ending homelessness, one person at a time,” said Huang about the reality that many people donating to the homeless face about wondering if a panhandler is truly homeless or if the donated money will be used for food or for drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
The memorandum outlined where the donations went to specifically and includes rental security deposits, first month’s rent and furniture for the 20 individuals.
“The Real Change Movement is important because a lot of rental programs out there don’t pay for things like security deposits and furniture and sometimes it takes a while to get everything going,” said Huang.
The newest addition to the city landscape by way of the RCM are eight signs designed by PCC graphic design students that have been installed at key panhandling hotspots along the 210 freeway.
“The signs are to help remind people that there is another option and that they do not have to feel uncertain when faced with a panhandler,” explained Huang. “Our campaign is meant to be very positive.”
The program is on track to generate between $25,000 to $30,000 per year, including the match from United Way, for homeless services in Pasadena with plans to install additional meters in the near future.
“The Real Change Movement is a small effort that is making a difference. With many large and small efforts, we can eradicate homelessness in our community. It take all of us,” said Moseley.
To learn more about the Real Change Movement and to find a donation meter near you, visit http://www.realchangemovement.org.