March 24, 2016; Oregonian (Portland, OR)

The Portland Business Alliance sponsored a billboard depicting a person holding a cardboard sign that reads, “Your spare change funds my addictions.” It sure did get a lot of attention, albeit much of it negative.

The massive sign was meant to discourage people from giving to panhandlers, but two mayoral candidates (including the one the Alliance is, itself, backing) along with about 955 others have objected by online petition to the way it objectifies people who are homeless or destitute. Now, the group that sponsored it is saying it will come down.

The sign was a part of a campaign called Clean and Safe. The chair of that committee is Mark Schlesinger, who has said that the group was pleased with the attention the billboard, which he says was meant to encourage donations to providers rather than directly to humans, attracted.

“We’ve agreed that it’s time to move on to the next phase of the program,” Schlesinger said. That phase will include another billboard, one that has yet to be revealed but is now under review by a committee.—Ruth McCambridge