“There’s a Better Way” is an innovative solution to panhandling that was started in 2015 under Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Richard J. Berry in partnership with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center.

Here’s how “There’s a Better Way” was implemented:

Phase I: Signs, Services & Donations

In June 2015, the City of Albuquerque posted 15 signs at various intersections were panhandlers were known to stand. The signs urged people in need of food or shelter to call the City’s 311 service.

The sign also lists the DONATEabq.org website for donations. Anyone who wants to help the needy can make donations through the website to support the community through the following efforts:

  • The Community Fund
  • Feed the Hungry
  • Shelter the Homeless
  • Support a Day’s Wages for Someone in Need of Work

Donations Collected now have the potential to have a Collective Impact.

For example, a driver could hand $5 out the window to a panhandler and help them purchase one meal – or they could donate $5 to Roadrunner Food Bank and feed 20 people.

Serving as the program’s fiscal agent, the United Way of Central New Mexico charges no administrative costs for the program.


Phase II: A Van

In September 2015, the City of Albuquerque found a van in the City’s motor pool, wrapped it in the “There’s a Better Way” graphics, and launched the “There’s a Better Way” van with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center.

With a initial budget of $50,000, the City’s Solid Waste Department is able to drive to areas frequented by panhandlers and offer them day labor, such as landscape beautification and garbage removal.

Pay for the work is $9 a hour.

After their work day is complete, passengers are transported back to St. Martin’s to be connected with emergency shelter to house them overnight as needed.

In fiscal year 2017, the City has budgeted $181,000 for the program’s continued success.

For the whole story please visit the City of Albuquerque web site.