A need has been identified to develop a public awareness campaign that supports a compassionate response for those experiencing homelessness while maintaining the safety of the Douglas County community. A recommendation that this campaign is developed in cooperation with communication professionals from the County, municipalities, and local partner agencies using a multi-prong approach to provide education on the current state of homelessness, resources available, and how residents can safely help.
We recommend the campaign include uniform signage strategically located throughout the county that encourages residents and businesses to contribute toward local agencies supporting the homeless, rather than giving money directly to panhandlers. Law enforcement representatives have indicated this would be a safe way for well-meaning residents to contribute to a community-wide solution. These proposed signs would include either a designated phone number or a website with information on how to donate, provide education, access to available resources, and a method to contact the Homeless Engagement, Assistance Response Team (HART) with specific concerns. To facilitate donations, a community fund designated to address homelessness could be established through the Douglas County Community Foundation. The fund administrator would distribute funds to community-based organizations that provide direct services to those experiencing homelessness.
Initial cost estimates for a 12”x18” sign including design, equipment and installation are $300 from a contracted source. These signs can be produced in-house for $150 each through the Public Works Department but may require additional staff resources depending upon the project scale.
The Douglas County Homeless Initiative recommends establishing a committee of municipality and county representatives to determine sign content, design, location, and maintenance.