Camden County taking new approach to helping homeless population

David Madden
December 26, 2019 - 4:00 am

CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Camden County freeholders are taking a new approach to fighting against homelessness: They are asking people to direct their donations not to panhandlers, but rather to organizations that work to help people in need. 

The "Hearts and Hands" initiative seeks to help homeless people with a broader stroke. 

Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez understands why some people prefer assisting someone they see on the street.

"There are lots of really good people that are out there and see somebody struggling, and they want to help out. So yeah, they’ll give them five bucks or they’ll give them a sandwich or something. They do it out of the kindness of their heart. But we know that when that happens, what we end up with is actually enabling individuals to remain out on the street and not seek the help that they need," she said.

She suggests it's better to offer your time as a volunteer or make donations to shelters, food kitchens or organizations trying to aid homeless people. 

The county has a program offering temp work for homeless people who want it. Many move on to attaining part-time work, which can lead to permanent housing and a full-time job.