‘Just say no:’ Melbourne mayor says don’t give money to panhandlers

Part of city’s homeless population argues not enough is being done to combat the issue

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Hannah Durocher and Briana Revita are still panhandling despite what some others, including City Hall, tell them.

Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey wrote on Facebook this week, “Just say no to panhandling.”

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He went on to write that some people are looking for handouts as they trash the streets.

Durocher and Revita said that doesn’t include them. They said they panhandle in addition to working jobs.

‘’We’re waiting on our first paychecks, so what are we supposed to do in between?’’ Durocher said.

Alfrey said the city is working to help the homeless through state and federal grant programs and its non-profit partners.

Since 2016, the City of Melbourne has been a partner in the Street to Home program, which helps people transition into stable housing with the help of Steadytown, a local nonprofit.

‘’Anytime you give money out of a window, you rob from a local nonprofit,’’ Alfrey said. ‘’I like to remind our residents there are options.’’

In the future, the mayor said the city hopes to move the Daily Bread soup kitchen into a larger building to serve more people.

Durocher and Revita think that would be a great idea as they feel not enough is being done now.

Revita said they’ve looked for help from voucher programs to stay in hotels without success.

‘’We’ve gone to them and we’ve gotten turned down by them each and every time,’’ she said.

Durocher said homelessness in Melbourne is an issue that’s gotten worse.

As of December 2021, the city said Brevard Homeless Coalition has allocated $400,000 in Emergency Services Grant Coronavirus funding to assist up to 200 households unsheltered or at risk of being homeless. This is in addition to the approval of a new grant designed to help around 93 households.

But it’s still not enough, Durocher said.

‘’When you’re filling up three-and-a-half hotels with homeless and you’ve still got homeless, you’ve got huge problems,’’ she said.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.