Don’t let the colorful parking meters in downtown Tucson fool you. They are part of a serious attempt to help homeless men and women.
The Tucson Change Movement unveiled the repurposed parking meters painted blue on Wednesday morning, highlighting its plans to distribute 20 of them throughout downtown.
The “donation stations” are designed solely for accepting pocket change and credit and debit cards 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the behalf of Tucson’s homeless population.
Tucson City Councilman Richard Fimbres emphasized that every nickel, dime and quarter and credit/debit-card donation would initially go directly to the Tucson Homeless Work Program, with even the credit-card fees being waived by the city’s parking meter vendor, IPS Group.
The day-labor work program, which began late last year, hires homeless men and women to do landscaping and light cleanup work in Tucson neighborhoods. They are paid an hourly wage and receive meals as well as talk with a social worker.
“With initiative from my office, Tucson has been able to make tremendous strides in helping the homeless in our community,” said Fimbres, who leads the Tucson Homeless Work Coalition, which seeks ways to end homelessness in the community.
Tom Litwicki, CEO of Old Pueblo Community Services, said the program has helped 138 individuals. And that has led to 15 people getting moved into permanent housing and 18 people now have permanent jobs.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías said during a news conference that the donations collected through the meters were helping to make people whole again.
“We can house people. We can help them find a pathway for a better way to live. But making them whole as a human being is a much different matter,” he said.
The first meter was installed in front of the main entrance of the Pima County Library in downtown Tucson. The remaining 19 will be installed through downtown and along Fourth Avenue in the coming weeks but will be placed away from regular parking meters to avoid confusion.
For information, go to tucsonchange.org