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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 6:33 AM
CaliNative CaliNative is offline
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What is the Best Way to Respond to Panhandlers?

Every day I must be asked for change by strangers several times. If I the person is polite and seems honest and appears to be in genuine need, I might give them a few quarters or even a dollar or two. It must be very tough to be homeless and ask strangers for help. If I am having a bad day or am in a hurry, I sometimes ignore the panhandler, or just say hello or "I'm out of change". If the person is overly aggressive, I rarely give anything. I have heard that the best panhandlers can make hundreds of dollars a day. Can this be true? I don't see how, since most people seem to ignore the panhandlers.

How do you deal with panhandlers? Is it a mistake to give them money? How frequently in an average day are you asked for money by strangers, and if you want to say, how numerous are panhandlers in your city? In the San Diego area and most California cities, homelessness and panhandling are widespread.

Last edited by CaliNative; Oct 17, 2019 at 8:23 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 8:27 AM
ThePhun1 ThePhun1 is offline
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I have a big heart, so I give every now and again. There are lots of social services out there, both public and private, so we should all make an effort to support those, gear the underclass to those and ignore panhandlers. Easier said than done of course but the right approach.

Finally, most of us have unique talents, I'd rather give a tip for a good show for what I think is a busker than a panhandler.

Last edited by ThePhun1; Oct 17, 2019 at 12:37 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 11:55 AM
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LouisianaRush LouisianaRush is offline
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I probably get asked 3x a day since I work downtown and walk three miles home through the heart of the city. I have never given money and never will. I just say "no thanks" or ignore them.

To me, giving money to a homeless person to me is like feeding a stray dog. It is not helping. The stray will die in the winter if it doesn't get a home or shelter. Giving money to homeless is just exacerbating the problem.
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  #4  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 12:24 PM
eixample eixample is online now
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Advice I got one time from someone who worked at a homeless shelter was smile and say no, sorry. Then donate to homeless service organizations or food kitchens at the end of the year. Easier said than done, but it is probably the best thing to do for the sake of treating them like humans. If you can't do that, ignoring them is probably best.
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  #5  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by LouisianaRush View Post
To me, giving money to a homeless person to me is like feeding a stray dog. It is not helping. The stray will die in the winter if it doesn't get a home or shelter. Giving money to homeless is just exacerbating the problem.
I don't want to sound preachy but I don't think it's good to think of them as dogs, other animals or something else subhuman. Whatever their problems are, they are still human beings. I understand your analogy, and I'm sure we all fall victim to that kind of thinking but I don't think it's apt nor is it good to say it out loud so other people get the same idea.
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  #6  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 12:28 PM
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Sam Hill Sam Hill is offline
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I've read multiple times that most panhandlers are not homeless, and yes, they can make hundreds per day. Homeless advocates around here urge the public NOT to give money to panhanders.

I can't walk or drive anywhere without encountering panhandlers all along the way. They're everywhere. Sometimes I have to walk through a group of them just to get to the dumpster in my alley, in which case I kindly demur and try to just get the heck out of there, then make sure the door closes behind me. It can be rather intimidating. These days everyone is talking about the so-called opioid crisis, but I can assure you the riff-raff in my alley (who live in a huge camp that has completely taken over the park a block down from me) are on some kind of uppers. They have plenty of energy and I hear them screaming and fighting often.

I don't give panhandlers money and I avoid eye-contact as I've found eye-contact makes them more aggressive. I might glance in their direction and say, "sorry; I don't carry cash," but I don't make actual eye contact. Quite frankly I'm sick of having to constantly deal with them, so my philosophy is, well... have you ever seen those signs in national parks that say "don't feed the bears?"

Last edited by Sam Hill; Oct 19, 2019 at 7:27 AM. Reason: Stupid autofill!
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  #7  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 12:42 PM
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Don't ever give these people money. You're an enabler if you do.

They're not going to save it to buy nice clothes for an interview, they're going to get high.

If you care about the homeless you can volunteer at a shelter and/or donate food and clothes to a non-profit.
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  #8  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 12:45 PM
jtown,man jtown,man is offline
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I give to about 10% of people who ask.

You can really tell when someone is somewhere dark. I know I shouldn't, but I do when I sense something that doesn't make me feel right..
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  #9  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 1:02 PM
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I rarely give money, but occasionally I will to some that I recognize on a daily basis or if I happen to have some change in my pocket. It honestly doesn't bother me that most are spending it on booze and if I were homeless I'd probably do the same thing. If there's one thing that irks me it's when people get on their high horse about them not spending the money on food or whatever - as far as I'm concerned once the money has left my hand it's theirs to do with as they please. And despite the extremely rare story of the "rich panhandler" that's a very, very small minority.

I get asked probably at least a dozen times a (week)day in Toronto and usually just say "sorry" and have never really had any issues. Same goes for most American cities, though I was warned to not really engage in New Orleans from a friend living there. In Joburg I found the homeless population largely friendly and occasionally got in longer conversations, usually if I was at a streetside cafe/bar in my area. Sure they were hustling but never seemed to mind if you didn't give cash. In Cape Town I learned quickly that my thumbs up and "sorry man" strategy simply encouraged someone to follow you for blocks harassing you for money - I just started ignoring homeless people in that city afterwards as they were the most aggressive I've seen.
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 1:45 PM
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Ignore them.
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  #11  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 1:55 PM
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Just ignore them, never make eye contact. Once you do, you're screwed and you'll have to listen to a sob story about how they need money for the bus aka alcohol or drugs. Last time I gave money to a homeless person I gave him 5 bucks. I followed him down the street to see if he really was going to the bus stop. First thing he did was walk into the liquor store.

I always just say, sorry man I don't carry cash; which I don't usually anyways. I rarely flat out ignore them. But I haven't given money to a homeless person for years. I did however get a sandwich for a homeless dude a couple months ago.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 2:22 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Originally Posted by photoLith View Post
Just ignore them, never make eye contact. Once you do, you're screwed and you'll have to listen to a sob story about how they need money for the bus aka alcohol or drugs. Last time I gave money to a homeless person I gave him 5 bucks. I followed him down the street to see if he really was going to the bus stop. First thing he did was walk into the liquor store.

I always just say, sorry man I don't carry cash; which I don't usually anyways. I rarely flat out ignore them. But I haven't given money to a homeless person for years. I did however get a sandwich for a homeless dude a couple months ago.
I do wonder if how younger people often do not carry cash is causing panhandling to become more difficult?

I know in China panhandlers have had to shift to having phones and using e-cash transfer systems, because China has been increasingly going cashless and people use their phones to pay for almost everything.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 2:26 PM
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Steely Dan Steely Dan is offline
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I do wonder if how younger people often do not carry cash is causing panhandling to become more difficult?
i've been wondering about that as well.

i encounter pandhandlers often, and i always say "sorry man, i don't have any cash", which isn't a lie because i rarely carry cash on me.

and i know i'm definitely not the only one.
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  #14  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 2:30 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
i've been wondering about that as well.

i encounter pandhandlers often, and i always say "sorry man, i don't have any cash", which isn't a lie because i rarely carry cash on me.

and i know i'm definitely not the only one.
I typically have a small amount of cash on me because I know some tipped workers strongly prefer cash tips because they don't have to report them (and in some cases, like when your room is cleaned at a hotel, you have no other option). But I use my card for like 95% of all purchases - even in person.
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  #15  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 2:31 PM
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Most panhandlers these days are techy enough to have smart phones, so I just Venmo them.
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  #16  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 2:33 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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I treat them as I do any other stranger. Politely say no and keep going.
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 3:15 PM
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Sometimes I'll give them a banana or something if I'm walking home from the grocery store.

If by some miracle I have loose change (almost never happens since I rarely carry cash), I might give it to them. I'm going to lose it in the laundry anyway...
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 3:19 PM
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I help out when I can. Which has become less and less over the years because like many of you, I often don't have cash on me.

Many years ago, I used to be leery of panhandlers/homeless. My mom would often give panhandlers money; I figure it's the Catholic in her. And anyway, in southeast Asia (us being Filipino), it seems many people give money to panhandlers; I think it's the communal nature of those cultures. But myself having grown up in Protestant culture America, I used to get on my mom's case for giving panhandlers money. And then I guess finally, my mom had had it, hehe. I told her "Why did you give that bum five bucks???" My mom looked at me and said "I'd like to think that after I'm gone, if you ever ended up on the street and had to resort to begging for money, someone would be nice enough to give you five bucks." And from then on, I never said anything about her giving money to panhandlers.

I will kind of gauge if I feel a person is really needy, because back in the 90s, I've encountered a number of times where different people, often well-dressed or dressed like they just came from the office, will each give the same sob story of having locked themselves out of their car and only needing a few more bucks to pay the Triple A guy or whatever. And then within the next few days, I'll see the same person, coming up to me like they've never seen me before, and then giving the exact same sob story. It's like, "Uh, didn't you tell me the same story on Monday?" I've actually told that to one person, and they immediately started cursing and walking away.

Also, if the person doesn't seem safe, or like they're ready to rob you or something, I just say "sorry, no" and keep walking.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 3:31 PM
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Give them eye contact, say exactly "sorry no," and move on.

The only thing you owe them is a modicum of polite human interaction.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 4:24 PM
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Give them eye contact, say exactly "sorry no," and move on.

The only thing you owe them is a modicum of polite human interaction.
Yep, I always make sure to acknowledge them if they seem genuine. I probably give money less than 10% of the time because I usually have none on me, but a "hello," "sorry, no" or something else along those lines at least acknowledges their humanity. The isolation of being homeless must be devastating to the human psyche, and many (most?) homeless people are dealing with some kind of mental illness to begin with. Treating them with basic human dignity is not too much to ask.

Unless they are aggressive, rude, etc., then I ignore them as I would any other stranger being rude.
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