Certain Parking Meters in Phoenix Now Take Donations for Homeless

One of the 10 Maricopa County-owned meters.
One of the 10 Maricopa County-owned meters.

Taking a cue from Denver and Pasadena, California, Maricopa County will take money collected at 10 renovated parking meters in downtown Phoenix and give it to homeless programs.

The bright yellow meters can be found on the south side of Madison Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, near the county jail.

"Donations only," they say. "All donation proceeds from the collection of this meter shall benefit much-needed services for the homeless. Thank you for your generosity."

That is, how much money they take in is up to the motorists who park there. Dropping coins into the meters is optional. There are no violations, and therefore no fines for violators.

Several cities around the country have tried a similar scheme, but with mixed results, according to a 2014 Time magazine article.

The five-member county Board of Supervisors approved the plan last month in a unanimous vote. The opportunity came up when the city of Phoenix gave up enforcement recently for that county-owned strip and donated the meters.

The meters will accept donations at all times, allowing people to use them solely for helping the homeless.

The collections won't be a "big chunk of change, of course, but it's a way to keep taxpayer dollars focused on the services," says Andrew Tucker, county spokesman. "We don’t expect it will generate much revenue, but every piece counts."

County residents' tax revenue already goes to several programs that help the homeless, including shelters, housing subsidies, and healthcare.

Similar meters are expected to be unveiled in Tucson next month.


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