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Providence latest city installing meters to stop panhandling
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence is due to become the latest American city to install giving meters as a way for people to donate to homeless causes without giving to panhandlers.

The first one will be in the ground by the first week of September, according to Emily Crowell, a spokeswoman for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, a Democrat. She said the meters are part of the mayor’s “collaborative and compassionate approach to address homelessness and income inequality citywide.” The locations will be announced at that time.

Officials have not estimated how much they expect to collect from the meters. They cost about $1,000 each but are the same meters used as parking meters, converted to be used to collect donations, Crowell said. An appointed commission will choose where to give any money collected, and those would be “proven, successful service providers,” she said.

WPRI-TV was first to report the upcoming installation.

The city is also planning to set up a site where people can give online.

Panhandling is legal, but has become a hot political issue as some business owners and lawmakers have proposed ideas to crack down on the practice. Providence Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin even weighed in with a Facebook post called, “Three Reasons Not to Give to Panhandlers.”

Giving meters originated in Denver, where they were first installed in 2007. Since then, cities from Pasadena, California, to Indianapolis have installed them. New Haven, Connecticut, installed them in December.

The success of the meters varies depending on the city. Dade County, Florida, which has around 700, raises about $50,000 a year with the meters, while Orlando, with a dozen, collected about $200 last year.