With a growing homelessness crisis affecting the entire Los Angeles region, residents now have an unusual way of contributing to a potential solution: by feeding a meter.
City and county leaders unveiled new donation meters Thursday designed to capture the contributions of charitable passersby.
All six of the meters will be located in Downtown Los Angeles, and revenue will go toward the Skid Row-based C3 program, a cooperation between the city, county, and local service providers that provides outreach to homeless residents and helps them find housing.
In addition to cash donations, the meters will also generate revenue through sponsorships that cost $3,500 per year. Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis sponsored the first two meters, installed in Grand Park.
Four other meters are on the way and will be found at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. They’ll be sponsored by the Hayward Manor Apartments, the Alexandria Hotel, the St. Vincent Jewelry Center, and the city department that maintains the monument.
The meter donation program was designed through a collaboration between Huizar’s office and the Flintridge Center, which has already rolled out similar programs in Pasadena and West Palm Beach, Florida.
The city of West Hollywood installed its own meter donation program earlier this year, with collection stations at the West Hollywood Gateway shopping center, Plummer Park, West Hollywood Park, and the intersection of Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards.
First proposed five years ago, the Los Angeles program was billed at the time as both a fundraising strategy and a means to “curb aggressive panhandling” by encouraging pedestrians to put their loose change in meters rather than giving money directly to homeless residents.
The meters look similar to ones already up-and-running in Pasadena: virtually identical to a run-of-the-mill parking meter, but colored bright orange and set back from the street to avoid confusion about their purpose. Donations can be made using both coins and credit cards.
In a statement, Huizar said that he’s hoping the Downtown LA program will become “a model” for other parts of the county, where outreach efforts similar to C3 are now expanding.