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SALEM

Salem launches app to curb panhandling

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Salem has launched an initiative aimed at curbing panhandling while increasing support for people in need of vital services. Through “Change It,” community members can send a text message to “SALEM to 50555” to donate money to the city’s Collaborative for Hope homelessness program as an alternative to giving money to panhandlers. Anyone who donates at least $5 can receive discounts from participating Salem businesses and restaurants. City officials said the dual goal of the initiative is to provide added funding for the program and to reduce the amount of money raised by panhandling, which they noted can be used to feed addiction and other unhealthy behaviors. Signs promoting “Change It” are being installed around the downtown and in the city’s parking garages.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.