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Random Queries > Do you give money to homeless people on the street?

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Do you give money to homeless people on the street?

Someone was talking about this around me a couple days ago, and it's stuck in my head. Ok, so if you're going to be compassionate you want to reach out and help people who are homeless, and giving cash is part of that, from just about any moral/religious standpoint, but there's an issue of trust. If you give someone five bucks on the street, will they use it for crystal meth? But if you don't because you're worried about that, are you disrespecting them? Maybe. Maybe not. You could give indirect aid, e.g. donations to homeless shelters, I guess.

What do you think?

message 2: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments depends. if i am in a big city and someone asks for money i try to talk to them for a sec before deciding. i hardly ever just walk past. if they say they haven't eaten i have said c'mon and ducked into the nearest food place and got them something to eat. i did this once in la ceiba and the man (who was obviously homeless and very scruffy/dirty) apologized to the restaurant people for his appearance and told them he would eat it outside which totally humbled me. even saying "hang on" and then running to a street vendor and getting them a hotdog works better sometimes than just handing money. i do give money too but i don't just walk around with a few bucks in my right hand sticking it out whenever someone asks. i had a guy this week in NOLA say "got some change to support the revolution?" he didn't get anything although it was an original angle.

here is my honest thought: when you give, you give with your heart having good intentions. you cannot control what the receiver does with the gift. give when your heart tells you to and walk away. if they misuse it, that is on them. that's why i talk to people i am giving money to. i hope it shows i care and they are not just pitiful or a project

message 3: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments buying food is also one of my favorite solutions. also buying the homeless newspaper. there's a new issue out every month, the sellers are monitored so you know they will spend their money right and they're working for their money selling the newspaper. one of them has a spot just outside the library and always wears a clown suit, clown make-up, a wig and the giant shoes.

message 4: by Dr. Detroit (new)

Dr. Detroit | 5941 comments Absolutely not. I don't get up at 5 a.m. every morning just to turn my money over to crackheads. Occasionally if one of them asks for money to get a meal, I'll tell them I'm on my way to get a bite to eat and they're welcome to join me and I'll pick up the tab. They just mumble and shuffle away.

And then there are those who ask for money for bus fare home. I always ask, "Why did you come downtown without enough money for a round trip?" More mumbling and shuffling.


message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1107 comments I think if one really wants to help homeless people, one should volunteer at a shelter or like, maybe, be part of a project that creates jobs for people who have none...like homeless people.

Oh, and I agree with Kevin's second bit.

message 6: by Dr. Detroit (new)

Dr. Detroit | 5941 comments Rachel wrote: "I think if one really wants to help homeless people, one should volunteer at a shelter or like, maybe, be part of a project that creates jobs for people who have none...like homeless people.


Agreed. A couple times of year, my wife and I force the kids to get up early on Saturday and go make lunches for the homeless down at - the name of the church in Detroit escapes me at the moment.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I usually keep a stash of granola bars in my car that I'll give if I pass someone who is panning, and sometimes I'll give away my leftovers if I pass someone after a restaurant meal. Too many junkies in Baltimore for me to give money directly. There's a corner in West Baltimore where a whole bunch of people timeshare a wheelchair. Same wheelchair, different person begging every day. It's hard not to get jaded.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I give money to the Salvation Army, because they serve the homeless, providing dinners every night at 6 p.m. I pass there every day, and I see the families staying there. Sometimes, there's a kid getting picked up by a school bus, even, right from the shelter.

I don't give money to panhandlers directly, because I've seen that money tends to get spent on beer, not food, and I've dealt with too many drunk homeless guys in the library to want to support that. But I like Sarah Pi's idea of having granola bars to give out.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

If someone asks me for some change I give them some change. I don't care if they need it for food, booze or drugs as long as I can help them out. I don't know if it's out of compassion or in order to feel better about myself

message 10: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments i appreciate your honesty DD. well put

message 11: by Lori (new)

Lori I love that idea about a granola bar, Sarah! Also I'm laughing at the wheelchair used by many - Threepenny Opera!

I'm so jaded, I guess coming from NY and even here, there's been so many news stories. One was about a girl who asked for bus money to go home to her parents in CA. Richard had passed this girl many times, and got suckered into giving her money quite a few times. But when he noticed she was still there with her sob story 6 months later he got pissed. And sure enough, on the news a few weeks later they had a story on panhandling scams, and there was her picture!

But I like to give money to the homeless newspapers. There's regulars at my grocery store and mini-market 2 blocks away that are incredibly nice and polite. Even when I have no cash I always smile at them.

Where I walk my dog in a park right by me, there's always the same crew of homeless hanging out under a large sheltered picnic area, and I've come to know them - we always exchange greetings.

message 12: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17305 comments Mod
Time-share wheelchair. Oh good gravy.

I do not give money to people on the street. Unless they have a hungry looking dog or cat with them. Then I rationalize it by saying I'm feeding the animal.
But the panhandlers in Portland were generally mean if you didn't give anything, and that jaded me. Big time. Fuck you, teenager with a million facial piercings!

message 13: by Dr. Detroit (new)

Dr. Detroit | 5941 comments Sally wrote: "Fuck you, teenager with a million facial piercings!"

And fuck you, teenager with a million facial piercings even if you're not panhandling.

message 14: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments whoa!

message 15: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) I'm with a lot of you here. I don't give to the homeless. It's not an issue of giving someone my hard-earned dollars or being insensitive. When you've lived in New York, you learn to understand the homeless panhandler mentality - why seek out help from charitable organizations when you can make more money from bleeding hearts everywhere who'll give you their spare change?

True story: I was once stopped by a pair of young guys who sold me a story about needing a few extra bucks for some gas. They were heading up to see their sick grandparents, and were worried about not being able to get to where they needed. I gave them $5 - at the time, $5 got you a good amount of gas.

About an hour later, I pull up to the convenience store at a gas station...and there are those two guys, buying beer. With my money.

"Well, since you're buying beer," I told them, "I'll be taking this." I took their six-pack and walked out with it.

message 16: by Heidi (last edited Mar 01, 2010 07:17PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10824 comments I totally do... and, Kevin, I'm with you on this. I'll talk to the person. I especially feel compassionate towards someone who seems to want to duck into an air conditioned restaurant during the summer heat. Instead of giving money, though - I'll go into the store or the restaurant with them and buy the food or the drink...

One time I bought a fella a large ice tea at The Dixie Cafe. Oh, it was SOOO hot that day - 116 with the heat index. I also wrote a check for $30 to the restaurant so he could enjoy anything on the menu and there would be plenty to cover gratuity and they would give him great service (I'd have stuck around, but I had to get back to work to feed the clients - was picking up their lunch order).

Unfortunately, I often can't give as often as I'd like - I'm usually down to my last few dollars that'll have to stretch through the week for me when I run into them. But on several occasions, I've told them my situation, and if they have integrity (and more times than not, believe it or not, they do)... they'll talk it through with me and tell me I need the money more than they do... and we can have a good laugh over it... and then I'll still at least get them a soda or some water.

But when I hear the same old fabricated story about being stranded, I just can't deal with that - I'm a HUGE fan of honesty. Just be honest, right? Treat me with enough respect that I can judge for myself that you're in need. Maybe that's harsh of me to feel that way, but c'mon...

message 17: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments good on you heidi. i can't always give money but i can give a smile or a moment

message 18: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments and you gave to the homeless. your time. a valuable commodity that is irreplaceable (unlike money). i keep getting reminded why i like bun

message 19: by Heidi (last edited Mar 01, 2010 07:51PM) (new)

message 20: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10824 comments Awwww... TawNub, I've missed you! :)

*glomps Bun*

message 21: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1107 comments BunWat wrote: "Proof!! ♥ Idieh!!"

For a moment there, I thought you were insulting Heidi the British way. Then I read Heidi's comments, and it all became clear! **Cackles**

message 22: by Heidi (last edited Mar 03, 2010 04:21PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10824 comments BunWat wrote: "::Glomps Heidi back::"


message 23: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10824 comments Rachel wrote: "BunWat wrote: "Proof!! ♥ Idieh!!"

For a moment there, I thought you were insulting Heidi the British way."

Yeah, my name backwards looks like a bad spelling of idiot.

message 24: by Heidi (last edited Mar 03, 2010 04:36PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10824 comments DAWWWW!!! TawNub! :D


message 25: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (KSprink) | 11469 comments i think that if any of us wind up homeless there are certain TC'ers we want walking past us and certain ones we don't

message 26: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 23252 comments Mod
Sometimes. I'm inconsistent. I have given $20 to people who didn't ask for it, but really looked down and out. Most recently I gave $3 (of the $8 I had in my purse) to a Muslim woman (at least, she was dressed in black wearing a hijab) sitting on the sidewalk with a sign that asked for money to feed her three children. She was extremely grateful. Most of the time I say no. I guess I haven't worked out a consistent philosophy about it. Sometimes I see people working the bus stop crowds; there's a white guy who is always claiming his car is parked 15 miles away and he needs bus fare to go get it. Naturally this guy does not get my money. I also don't give money to anyone who's smoking. If you have enough money to buy cigarettes, you ain't getting my money. And if you bummed the cigarette, even so, your smoke is bothering me and you ain't getting my money.

message 27: by Brittomart (new)

Brittomart FUNNY STORY.

Okay, so my brother and I were going to like, the mall or something the other week, and there's this homeless dude in a wheelchair who kinda stations himself right off of an exit on Hwy 64. Well, we saw him, and I saw headphones around his neck, an ipod, and this guy was jamming. So I asked my brother, "Dee, does that homeless dude have an iPod? Doesn't that mean he has to have a house, computer, and internet?" So we just laughed it off and thought maybe he stole it or something.

A couple of days ago, my brother called me from work. My brother works at a cable company. He said, "Hey, you know that homeless guy that sits at that exist off of 64? One of my friends said that he just came back from putting cable in his house. And I don't mean like, basic cable. This guy has Starz, HBO, internet AND a pair of Beats by Dre."

message 28: by Donitello (last edited Sep 08, 2010 05:40AM) (new)

Donitello | 148 comments An interesting book that I think relates to this subject is Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. The author tried to see if you could actually live on a full-time $7-8/hour job. She tried three different jobs (waitress, maid service, Wal-Mart "associate") in three different states for a month each. The criterion was whether, by the end of the month, she'd be financially able to go another month. She never was.

And she made a good point: As a journalist, she had lots of life skills that her coworkers lacked, which SHOULD have allowed her to find and get the best jobs, cheapest housing, etc. The biggest problem was the "cheap housing." First, there was virtually none. Second, even where it existed, the big chunk of money for first/last/security represented an insurmountable obstacle for most of her coworkers. She didn't want to give herself any undue advantages, so didn't provide herself with that amount of cash. The only option was to live in a motel room while trying to save up enough for an apartment. But even the sleaziest motel room cost at least twice what an apartment did, and meanwhile didn't have a stove, fridge, etc., which made it impossible for her to cook the cheap but nutritious meals she'd planned to subsist on. By the end of the month, she never had a dime left over from expenses.

In other words, in her experience full-time jobs paying $7-8/hour were the ticket to a downward spiral into serious poverty. Many of her coworkers lived with whole families in a motel room, and some were homeless.

I don't think most of us in the middle class have a clue what's going on for the disenfranchised. (And it's not just in this country -- anyone seen the BBC series "Famous Rich & Homeless"?) There are aspects of our society that simply nurture poverty. My feeling about giving money has nothing to do with "deservingness." I can never know whether the person I'm looking at is "deserving" or not -- the ones you think are lying to you are telling you the truth, and the ones you think are telling the truth are lying. The issue is way bigger than me. I say just give when you can, and when you can't, say I'm sorry and good luck.

message 29: by Meels (last edited Sep 08, 2010 01:15PM) (new)

Meels (amelia) Pretty much as close to never as is realistic to say. Since "never" is never accurate...

Now, before I sound all cold and hard, it isn't that I wouldn't help someone or volunteer somewhere or feed someone etc. I just have an aversion to handing out cash for several reasons. One is that my mother was mugged attempting to do this in downtown Portland. Two, I lived in downtown Portland for a while and the constant begging became really annoying and pisses me off more than makes me feel sorry for anyone. Also, I used to work in a liquor store when I was younger and I would pass the regulars out panhandling on my way to work and when the sun went down in they would come to get their cigs and a pint. Hungry? Obviously not that hungry when your first priority is booze. I'm not saying that folks aren't entitled to destroy their liver and spend their money any way they like, but I don't have to contribute to it. Lastly, I have a family member who at 19 decided that he didn't want to go to school or get a job, the world owed him a living. When that wasn't forthcoming and his rent/utilities etc. were cut off and he was evicted he just moved to the streets and stuck his hand out. Nope, sorry, can't do it. I'd support a program that helped folks get back on their feet or whatever, but handing out money on the street just doesn't happen anymore.

message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I gave eight pennies the other night to a guy who was walking around with a sign that said "My family was kidnapped by ninjas" and a flipside "I was out fighting zombies and they foreclosed on my home"

I said "I really like your signs, but all I have is eight cents." In truth, I wouldn't have given more, but I thought the signs were really funny.

Stacia (the 2010 club) (Stacia_R) I rarely carry cash on me these days, but if I have it, I will give it away.

My husband is awesome. A few months ago (when he was between jobs and we were on unemployment, thankfully he's back working an even better job now) he started talking to a down on their luck couple near the grocery store that were asking for work or money. They had two teenagers and were struggling to make ends meet, so he went inside the store and bought a cartful of groceries for them. He then came home and asked if I minded that he spent all of our grocery money.

Mind? I was so happy with him for being the caring man that I married.

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