Some retired parking meters are being given a new life in Evanston as “donation stations” aimed at helping the homeless.

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley says it’s part of an initiative to raise awareness about homelessness and panhandling.

Thirteen meters were turned into works of art by participants in the EvanstonMade Kids Fair earlier this summer and were installed this morning around downtown.

Coakley says Downtown Evanston is organizing a campaign to help the homeless find meals, showers and shelter while also encouraging people to put their spare change in one of the donation stations rather than in a panhandler’s cup.

She says all change collected at the donation stations will be given to Evanston-based groups like Connections for the Homeless that provide services and resources to people who end up on the street.

“By redirecting resources to organizations that are in a better position to provide these much-needed services we hope to maximize their impact,” Coakley, says . “Connections for the Homeless, like so many health and human service non-profit organizations, needs year-long fundraising support, we thought this might help, and the meters add a little art downtown as well.”

In addition, Downtown Evanston has developed two brochures that will be available throughout Evanston. The first is a list of resources in Evanston –for shelter, meals, job assistance and other services —  to distribute to people asking for change. The second is a handout with an overview of panhandling and other ways to get involved to help address homelessness here.

The meters are installed in planters and landscaped areas in the 600 and 700 blocks of Davis Street, the 700 blocks of Church and Clark streets, the 1500 and 1700 blocks of Sherman Avenue and the 1600 Orrington Avenue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Walked past one tonight
    I walked past one by the Fountain Square this evening and honestly thought it was a meter that was taken from somewhere, vandalized, painted and left there propped up in the bushes.

    Was there some sort of signage near it that I didn’t see?

  2. Art?
    As far as parking meter art, it’s must be in the eye of the beholder but all-in-all it a pretty good idea.

  3. Well intentioned, though
    Well intentioned, though poorly executed. How is one suppose to know what the meter does i regards to the homeless without some sort of signage?

  4. This is why I love Evanston!
    Little things matter. Passing by homeless people and panhandlers in downtown Evanston, I am never sure whether it is good to give them money or not. So sometimes I do and sometimes I keep walking with a heart heavy with guilt. Now I’ll be sure to take all my change to these meters!
    This summer, the city helped almost 600 youths get summer jobs – many of them working for city departments. They want to increase the number to 1000 next year.
    I am proud of my city.

  5. Homeless Meters

    Seriously one of the dumbest ideas I have seen. It may make people feel good about giving which is nice but in reality someone will steal it with all the proceeds. Only a matter of time.

    Homeless people have resources in Evanston. Most suffer from mental issues and they refuse help which is sad but a reality. The rest who panhandle have a home but know people will give them money because most of them are good bullshitters or they intimidate NU students or visitors.

    Either way it hurts the businesses in downtown Evanston. The council is too scared to react or afraid of being considered racist. That's not the case either. It is a livibility issue of having to deal with unnecessary hassles of going to shop, get coffee, eat dinner, have a nice night out and then pay up to some panhandler because Evanston refuses to deal with it the proper way.

    Create an ordinance banning panhandling in the downtown area except for a designated frontage or make it illegal to panhandle within 1000 feet of an ATM. Wake up E-town….Don't  we want to keep it nice for everyone?

    1. Evanston Panhadling Ordinance

      Many people know the ordinance is violated by at least a few habitual panhandlers. Several of the fast food restarants are on a frequent basis subject to panhanlers asking for money or food.  This is most common when they can go to sections not in the immediate view of the employees.
      The CTA esp. Evanston Express frequently [less so since they make so many stops] has people asking for money for those getting out of prison and such.  Some of them have a good enough presentation that they could be actors.

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