Asking for change in response to panhandling

Local businesses, in particular retailers, say panhandlers scare off customers, even if there is no threat to safety. And a growing homeless population can also be a blemish for economic developers trying to show off the region. To combat the problem, the nonprofit group Homeward launched a three-month campaign Monday to remind residents that handing over spare change might not be the best way to help.

Homelessness on the rise

The shrinking job market and increased foreclosures are a double-whammy for Richmonders without a safety net, leaving some no option but to live in a shelter or on the street, many for the first time.