Vex Harrow
Posted: January 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm
Subject: Change Put in Tempe Red Meters Aids Needy, but Supports Bigots

red-meter-mill-aveI’ve always been a little bit dubious of the red parking meters set up alongside many of the maps and signs along Mill Avenue. They come along with notices that point out that “a hand out is not a hand up,” and a lot of other slogans about the homeless population. It’s true, giving someone money when they’re spanging doesn’t do much to help their situation and tends to encourage them to stay on the street, but this didn’t seem to me to be the way to educate the public on the matter.

Now I know that feeding these meters also feeds the Salvation Army and that’s not an organization the public should be supporting.

According to an article in AZ Central, “The 11 bright-red meters were installed three years ago as the basis of the Change for Change program, the brainchild of Tempe Leadership Class XXIII.” They’re highly recognizable and you’ll probably know what I’m talking about the moment that you heard about them. Initially, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about them. I enjoy that someone in Tempe actually wants to think of doing something good for the homeless population and comfort the Mill rats.

However, further reading of the article reveals that the proceeds from the meters go to Tempe Community Action Agency, Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development and HomeBase Youth Services—and the Salvation Army.

Right now, the Salvation Army promotes evil, bigoted views involving members of the LGBT community—a notable number of whom are represented within the homeless population in Tempe—and this organization also lauds themselves for spending some of their money on their bigoted behavior. A Facebook page popped up last year to make obvious that this behavior isn’t welcome in a free country like the United States and that they’re prejudiced against a segment of the very population they claim to seek to aid speaks volumes about the care we can expect them to give to the subject.

The homeless population is better off if you give your money to HomeBase, Tumbleweed, or many others who do not have a reputation of anti-civil rights policies. Your money is better spent actually promoting the welfare of homeless individuals and our community in general than it is supporting an organization that cannot bring itself to treat all its charges with fairness regardless of their sexual orientation. Worse, the Salvation Army’s high level leaders have gone as far as to request that they be exempt from antidiscrimination laws from when receiving money from the Federal government; and when faced with being forced not to discriminate, they threatened to stop work for the homeless in New York City.

Now, I’ve spent my share of time slumming it with the Mill rats for most of my life. I love these people. They are my people and I enjoy my time with them.

We can do better than to fund a bigoted organization when there are many others who don’t have a civil rights and discrimination issue that they’re fighting to keep (using the money we give them to aid the homeless to do it.)

Until the Change for Change program stops giving money to the Salvation Army or the Salvation Army cleans up its act I will not be putting money into those meters.

Neither should you.

[Image credit Deirdre Hamill/The Arizona Republic, via]

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