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View Full Version : Panhandling, beggers, and the Homeless


SkinWalker
04-01-2003, 02:22 PM
Here in my city of Dallas, Texas, the city council passed a municipal legislation that made it illegal for panhandlers or street beggers to operate on public property adjacent to roadways and other institutions, such as banks.

I'm a bit divided on how I feel about this. On the one hand, I recognize that the plight of homelessness is more complex than saying, "they should get real jobs." Many people are homeless for a variety of reasons they have little control over, such as mental illness. Others, true enough, are homeless because of self-inflicted reasons, such as drug abuse.

On the other hand, I also will feel more comfortable driving throughout the city without seeing the many destitute people with their signs that proclaim the plight they are in and request assistance from passing drivers. I've given to them, both money and food, but it is still very unconfortable driving past them. I also do not know if their plights are genuine. I have to assume that human nature being what it is, even the homeless would embelish their need in order to maximize their profits. Also, it is argued that panhandling creates a safety hazard as well as an interruption to traffic flow.

I can attest to the later, as I've sat through a green light on more than one occasion for no other reason than a driver wanting to give some money, or speak to, a panhandler.

But I can't help but wonder if the whole thing isn't political ploy to "make the city appear better" so that voters will be pleased and outside businesses will see an appeal to open ventures here.

How do other cities in other parts of the country and world deal with the panhandler/homeless issue?

Is banning panhandling in the manner described above a proper way to deal with the situation, in your opinion?

What other sides of this have I overlooke?

ShadowTemplar
04-01-2003, 02:36 PM
In Denmark we don't really do much about it. But then again, there are several major differences:

1) We have social security that actually works.

2) We move about by foot a lot. This means that one person stopping to talk/give doesn't disturb traffic as much.

But I do think that it's illegal.

As to whether it's right:

Well, I dunno, really. I guess that I'll just go back to the proverb:

The law is very fair. It forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges and beg for bread.

I dunno, I think that I'm rambling right now. I need to get to sleep.

El Sitherino
04-01-2003, 02:39 PM
i think its stupid that dallas did that i was wondering if someone from texas would talk about this. i know a few homeless people one a desert storm and vietnam veteran. he lost his leg in desert storm and in vietnam he was shot in his left arm but he was rehabilitated enough for of course when desert storm came he was able to join. he isnt able to get a job around here because he's handicapped even walmart shut him down saying his image isnt what they want. i think that the money they are now spending for patrol to watch for panhandlers could be given to the homeless so they can eat and not have to beg for money. but the part i am for is those schools, churches, kids sitting out there and asking you if you want a car wash. those annoy me because they dont need the money as bad as these starving homeless people. regardless of why they are on the streets they should be treated with at least some humanity. i think that society isnt willing to lend a hand until they are on the brink of being shot down to the bottom.

munik
04-01-2003, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by InsaneSith
i know a few homeless people one a desert storm and vietnam veteran. he lost his leg in desert storm and in vietnam he was shot in his left arm but he was rehabilitated enough for of course when desert storm came he was able to join. he isnt able to get a job around here because he's handicapped even walmart shut him down saying his image isnt what they want.Without really understanding the plight of this veteran you mentioned, I figure him to be in the service for 20 years, maybe more. So, if he loses his leg and he gets out on a medical discharge, even if it wasn't 100% he still has got to be making some cash. Hell, if he served his 20, they probaly would have just let him retire, and then he gets all that cash from that. Anyhow, I don't think this guy is hurting too bad for cash, even if he can't get a job at Walmart.

Reborn Outcast
04-01-2003, 11:02 PM
It is very sad of me to say this but, I have grown to not trust the homeless. Before you spew insults at me (:D) listen. I have given money to a beggar only to see him immediatly go and blow it on alcohol. I have also given money to a beggar only to find out that he was a normal guy just dressing up like a beggar just to get some extra money. Its a very sad world.

Eldritch
04-02-2003, 01:50 AM
I don't think that anyone should be able to just sit there and beg on the street. However, if you want to be some kind of street performer, that should be allowed (and you'll probably earn more that way). And you don't even have to have an instrument or anything - there are some performers in New Orleans that just stand there like living statues, so there's always something they can do.
People like to help those who help themselves. A little initiative is just the thing many of these people need.

SkinWalker
04-02-2003, 02:43 AM
Apparently, a fair amount of the destitute in Dallas are mentally challenged in some way. Whatever families they have are either unwilling or unable to assist them. That, along with the inadequate mental health services available, creates a bad situation.

I think, in many cases, it's a matter of not enough social workers that can get out to these people, build relationships with them, gain their trust, then tie them in with one or more of the many social services that might be available.

Also, many of the homeless are so down-trodden that they cannot get up. It's as if it takes a job to get a job. When you apply for a job, the employer wants to hire someone with the right appearance and hygeine. The employer also wants to have an address and telephone number.

Once you've hit bottom, it may not be so easy to bounce back.

ShadowTemplar
04-02-2003, 03:50 AM
Ok, I think that I'm a little more awake now.

I reckon that beggars are a sympthom, not the problem itself. The problem would be inadequate social security. I mean, there will of course always be beggars, even in such a rich country as Denmark with such a well-funded (yeah, I know, I know you'd call it Communistic) social security system as Denmark, we still have beggars.

But for them to be a problem, I reckon that social security will have to be lacking.

Point is, if this is the case, outlawing them won't make them go away. Sure, it might put them away, but it won't make them go away.

SkinWalker
04-08-2003, 01:03 PM
This Guy (http://www.texashousing.org/txlihis/livingcrisis/livingcrisis/Dallas-problems/homeless2.jpg) only has a week left.

The FireFighters raising money with the Fill-the-Boot (http://www.avfd.com/FirePrevention/Fill_The_Boot/dsc0985.jpg) only have a week left.

I wonder how some of these down-trodden people will get money for little things like medications to control problems like bi-polar disorders, depression, or schizophrenia? The same problems that are the reasons that some of them are homeless to begin with.

ioshee
04-08-2003, 03:41 PM
I don’t think it is necessarily wrong of a city (Dallas in this case) to outlaw panhandling. I think that decision should be up to the city government.

Although it would be cool if they made a little drive through park for all the panhandlers to hang out in. That way, if you wanted to give some money you could just drive through and give to whomever you wanted.

I would name it “Panny-Han Park”

ShockV1.89
04-08-2003, 08:37 PM
If someone comes up and asks me for money for food or whatever, I dont give it to him. I simply say "Food? Sure, follow me, I'll grab you a burger." They usually snort and walk away, or try to make up some lame excuse.

I've only actually been taken up on it once, and ended up having a very interesting conversation with the guy.

Bonedemon
04-09-2003, 12:48 PM
I guess you´re right Skinwalker. I suppose they´d do that to get business to town. And I agree on your point about when you´ve hit buttom you don´t get up easily.

TheHobGoblin
04-09-2003, 03:46 PM
I'm in the Bronx, New York. I see alot of Homeless people. Makes me feel sad. One time I got 3 pizza slices. Then my friend changed his mind so I was going to eat it. Then saw 2 homless guys gave them my 2 slices. It feels good but just saving 2,1, or 5 isn't going to save all.:(

CagedCrado
04-09-2003, 10:29 PM
I think the government should collect homeless people and give them jobs digging holes or what not for shelter and pay, and then the people too disabled to work can live in shelters built by the homeless workers and eat food grown by homeless people. Then the homeless people are worked into the work force again if possible. Its similar to roosevelts new deal.

SkinWalker
04-10-2003, 12:14 PM
I think that might be a good idea, Caged. It is very similar to FDR's New Deal, particulary programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (if memory serves correct) where the jobless were basically used for public works projects that could have been done more quickly and efficiently, but created jobs.

The problem, I suspect, is going to be justifying a program like that.... governments are reluctant to spend money on the poverty class as long as their percentage is low compared to the remainder of the nation. A program like that will still require significant federal funding since it would likely not be profitable.

Still... good idea.

El Sitherino
04-10-2003, 08:21 PM
Originally posted by SkinWalker
I think that might be a good idea, Caged. It is very similar to FDR's New Deal, particulary programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (if memory serves correct) where the jobless were basically used for public works projects that could have been done more quickly and efficiently, but created jobs.

The problem, I suspect, is going to be justifying a program like that.... governments are reluctant to spend money on the poverty class as long as their percentage is low compared to the remainder of the nation. A program like that will still require significant federal funding since it would likely not be profitable.

Still... good idea. theres also a problem of what they will do with them. if they pay them like they do the mexican immagrants that they allow to stay but have to be economic slaves. they get paid so that they aren't called slaves yet not enough to even buy a pack of gum. i have done a report that shows that many of the immigrants are takin advantage of, they usually get paid only 5 cents a shirt in the shirt factories. also the trench diggers are only paid 1 dollar a day. so think about how much they will pay to a man who has a medical condition and is homeless and will do anything just for enough money to get a egg mcmuffin from mc donalds.

Dagobahn Eagle
04-18-2003, 02:29 PM
But I can't help but wonder if the whole thing isn't political ploy to "make the city appear better" so that voters will be pleased and outside businesses will see an appeal to open ventures here.
Agreed.

Well, Templar, Denmark is leftist, which means people are ready to give money to other people. Social security in the States, however, can't work well if taxes aren't increased.

Of course panhandling should be legal. The way you've described Dallas, if you see someone at school who hasn't had lunch and you know that you're not going to eat the rest of my sandwich, you may as well give it to that person. But if you choose to give it to a starving panhandler, that's illegal.

Why is it illegal to help the starving while it's legal to help a guy who probably ate two hours ago (aka breakfast)?

But the govt. should also force panhandlers to take jobs.

SkinWalker
04-19-2003, 01:34 PM
I don't think it's illegal to give money to a panhandler, but rather to engage in the practice of panhandling.

Ironically, reversing that law might have been the way to truly get rid of panhandlers: make it illegal to give to a panhandler.

I spoke to a panhandler who was working the front of a 7-Eleven yesterday. I handed him a dollar and made a comment about the city coming down on "you guys." He informed me that they [the police] really haven't started cracking down on them and that they still have a week or so. But they do give the sirens of patrol cars a short beep if a panhandler is working the same area too long.

I asked what could they do to them? He stated that the fine will be $500. When I commented that if "you guys could afford a $500 fine, you would be on the street," he laughed and said that there was no way "those guys" would be able to pay it. I found it interesting that he both identified with the rest of the panhandlers and homeless, but also separated himself. I have to point out that he was definately indigent. His dental care was neglected, he needed a bath, and it appeared that he had a medical problem with one eye.

I asked my new friend what the consequence would be when they don't pay and he said that they would be taken to jail. When I countered that that might be a good thing to some, he agreed very quickly. "Some of these guys really would like that. They've given up and want an end to fighting to make it."

I also asked him what he thought should be done and he went on about a plan that would tax their income if they made over $10. I realized that this plan probably wouldn't be legal since it involved having the police collect the taxes from their cups and pockets (sounded more like a protection-racket), but I was fascinated with his ability to express himself. This man wasn't crazy, retarded, or even lazy. He obvously worked hard a collecting the money that he did. He was at the bottom. For whatever reason, he couldn't rise above that. He said, "I'm one of those guys that wants a little help." He indicated that he didn't like living the way that he did and that he had "a slight alcohol problem."

Other homeless/panhandlers/indigent persons on the street, he added, don't want help. They just want to be left alone and left outside the mainstream of society. They want to make enough money to get a good motel room once in a while and have a nice meal. The remainder of the time they live under bridges. I got the feeling that these people weren't satisfied, but rather they were hopeless and resigned.

So I've figured out that the homeless/panhandling problem in Dallas isn't intended to solve the problem of these people. The city could still care less than ever about their plight. I doubt that many tickets and arrests will be made, but the law will be there to use when an area needs to be cleaned up for a prospective business proposal or large corporate investor wants to find a new home for a multi-billion dollar defense contract.

If the city truly wanted to put an end to panhandlers, they would fine the people giving them money and create a fear among the middle class that supports the indigent (the wealthy class certainly doesn't chip in) and then the homeless and indigent would move to another city. Perhaps Fort Worth. Maybe Taos, NM.......

C'jais
04-19-2003, 01:54 PM
Originally posted by SkinWalker
If the city truly wanted to put an end to panhandlers, they would fine the people giving them money and create a fear among the middle class that supports the indigent (the wealthy class certainly doesn't chip in) and then the homeless and indigent would move to another city. Perhaps Fort Worth. Maybe Taos, NM.......

That's all well and good, but I can't see it really stopping the problem (like you, I suppose).

Stopping panhandling isn't going to decrease the amount of poor people, is it?

I've a feeling that the government would rather attack the symptoms than the root of the problem, here.

SkinWalker
04-19-2003, 04:36 PM
Originally posted by C'jais
I've a feeling that the government would rather attack the symptoms than the root of the problem, here.

If I were a city councilman, I would argue that by eliminating panhandling and getting control on the visibility of the indigent on the streets, Dallas becomes a more attractive city to outside corporations and therefore more likely to bring in new business and industry. By doing so, more jobs are created and therefore the homeless have new opportunities and the problem is solved.

The problem with this theory is that it assumes that the homeless are so because of their lack of employment. It ignores other causes, some of which aren't pretty or easy to care about, such as drug addiction, mental illness, financial ruin of credit, etc.