NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio called in from his all-expenses-paid weekend trip to Germany to remind residents they should "be discerning" when giving money to panhandlers — telling them that the best way to help them is by calling 311 instead of handing them change.
Giving change to panhandlers on the street is "not ultimately the way to change anyone's life," the mayor said on his weekly call-in show, "Ask the Mayor" on the "The Brian Lehrer Show" after the topic came up earlier in the call.
"This one's always a challenge," added the mayor, who is six hours ahead in Hamburg for the G20 summit. He went on to say that New Yorkers had "hearts of gold" underneath rough exteriors.
"For those truly in need, I always say...you see someone you really think is really homeless and really in need, call 311 and we will send a HOME-STAT worker over right away to try and get them the help they need," he said.
"Hanging on a street corner collecting change isn't going to change their life. Things like mental health services, anti-addiction services and all are what's really going to make the difference."
The mayor also railed against people who he says aren't in any particular need and instead just "finding a way to get some easy money."
"And that does frustrate me," de Blasio said.