1) Why is donating to Imagine Positive Change better than giving to a panhandler? 

 Many who panhandle use money to support illegal drugs and alcohol addiction. Giving to panhandlers almost never leads to a change in someone’s life and usually only sustains these difficult and often dangerous lifestyles.  By giving to IPC, you are ensuring that the money will go for truly beneficial activities and that beneficiaries are given new opportunities to find their way out of life on the street.

It is crucial to understand that the more money given to panhandlers in any  given area, attracts more panhandlers to the area. Because many panhandlers are successful Downtown, it perpetuates and increases the amount of panhandling going on and leads to a deterioration of the environment on the street.

Imagine Positive Change fulfills its name by supporting the resources that provide real opportunities for change in the lives of people on the street, and this helps improve the social environment on the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz.

2) How does the Imagine Positive Change Program work?

Imagine Positive Change collects funds through donations made directly into our re-purposed parking meters located in various locations Downtown, through donations made online or by personal check by compassionate individuals, and through business, organization, and individual sponsorships of the meter program.

Once collected, these funds are made accessible to the Downtown outreach social worker. The City of Santa Cruz and the County of Santa Cruz currently fund a street outreach social worker who has daily contact with poor and homeless people on the streets of Santa Cruz (including many who panhandle), working to connect these folks to needed services.

IPC funds allow the social worker to purchase things like a local bus pass, a personal hygiene item, an essential piece of clothing, or a basic meal. A social worker would be able to cover the costs of completing the paperwork for a person trying to acquire a government identification card or buy a bus ticket for a teen runaway to return home.  Many examples like these can make a real difference getting a person’s life into a better place.  This opens the door for the social worker to guide people on the street to life-changing services and programs.

3) Why is this program important to improving the downtown community’s quality of life?

By focusing on creating awareness for services, the Imagine Positive Change program aims to help reduce the rates of homelessness, crime and hospital resources spent on drug and alcohol complications.

Programs that take accountability on helping the homeless population can overall improve the community. For example, according to the PACT (Bob Lee Community Partnership for Accountability, Connection and Treatment) Program Annual Data Report, there has been a 74% reduction on the amount of days an afflicted individual is homeless and/or has required  public shelter. This data also shows the  reduced rate of misdemeanor bookings, felony bookings, jail and hospital days.


4) What are the available resources?

A comprehensive list of services and resources  are available on the Homeless Services Center site here.

5) How are the homeless supposed to access this information?

There are yellow signs on each red meter that display the 2-1-1 call number for immediate help.

While direct contact between the social outreach worker and the person in need is the most common method of introducing that person to the Imagine Positive Change Program, there are also informational cards and brochures available throughout Downtown. Those cards and brochures directly link those in need with many services, as well as provide information on free and low-cost ways to access phones and the internet.

6) Can I donate using Paypal?

Absolutely! Just click here. Or if you would prefer to mail a personal check, please send it to the following address:

Imagine Positive Change
101 Cooper Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Imagine Positive Change coalition partners include:

The Downtown Association of Santa Cruz
The Homeless Persons Health Project
The Human Care Alliance
Locally Owned Business Association
Housing Authority of Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce
United Way of Santa Cruz County