SPOKANE, Wash. — While it may feel good to reach into your cup holder for that extra change or pass over a dollar bill, it may not be helpful.
The Spokane Police Department said that panhandling can be dangerous and may also lead to road rage.
The bigger worry, police said, is whether panhandling discourages people from seeking services.
Union Gospel Mission, which gives out granola bars and a list of services to the homeless, said they agree with the SPD's worries.
"I often times would give people money because my heart really hurt when I would see the position in life or what they were experiencing," UGM Day Desk Supervisor Matt Lewis said. "Often times the best way to be helpful and supportive of someone is to build a relationship with them and its do something to encourage them embrace and experience their humanity."
The SPD and City of Spokane are asking the public to donate to organizations that help the homeless instead of giving out money directly.
This recommendation comes because there is concern that panhandlers will use donations for drugs or alcohol, which could help further the cycle of poverty and addiction.
One such program which is working is the "Give Real Change" program, which has raised more than $20,000 for local non-profits that help those struggling with homelessness.
"If I have a resource I feel responsible and I think we fell responsible to steward that resources and say 'what's the likelihood that this resource is going to be used for something I personally can support," Lewis said.