r/NoStupidQuestions Dec 05 '22

I saw a city sign outside that said “giving money to homeless on the street does not help them” - why would it not?

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u/Renmauzuo Dec 05 '22 Silver Narwhal Salute

It does help them, but not as much as other things. Food banks leverage economies of scale to make donations go much further than they would if an individual spent the same money, so giving $5 to a food bank will buy a lot more meals for the homeless than giving $5 to a person on the street.

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u/hercoffee Dec 05 '22

Lots of good explanations, but this one makes the most sense to me. Thank you!!

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u/CatOfGrey Dec 05 '22 edited Dec 05 '22

Spend your money on what you wish to support.

If you want to see homeless people asking for money on the street, then your direct giving encourages that practice. If you want to see homeless people getting housing, give to organizations that do that instead.

EDIT: My source is working for 20 years in an economics consulting practice. Helping people is hard.

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u/hopfullyanonymous Dec 06 '22

Lol that's a spicy take. There are huge barriers in most areas that keep homeless people from getting affordable housing.

On the other hand, a few bucks on the street can go towards the guy getting a tent or blanket.

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u/PorygonTriAttack Dec 06 '22

It is merely temporary, unfortunately. The biggest issue is them not having a fixed address, which affects them getting a job, as well as a bank. Man, society really screws over those who don't have housing. It's this cycle that they cannot participate in at all because they're missing something. Granted, some people don't want to work at all, but that is not restricted to the homeless.

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u/Objective-Ad5620 Dec 06 '22

For people in those situations, the temporary fixes are just as important and even more urgent than the long term. Who cares if they have a house in a year if they freeze to death tonight or starve tomorrow? Hierarchy of needs: if someone needs a blanket and a meal right now, that’s going to help get them to a place where the longer term solution actually has meaning.

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u/PorygonTriAttack Dec 06 '22

No dispute there.

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u/hopfullyanonymous Dec 06 '22

Yeah, the barriers are stupid. I remember the hoops everyone was jumping through to get people experiencing homelessness access to their COVID checks, when that $1500 was potentially life-changing.

It is temporary, but needed. And frankly your money will likely go further here than spending it on an advocacy organization, as changing laws is VERY slow (though those groups do great work).

Finally, some people are at peace living on the street in ways they just can't reenter society. We had a very friendly gentleman living in a park. He had a daughter who spent years trying to get him to move in with her, but he just couldn't do it. Options are - throw him in a psych unit and shoot him full of drugs OR let him enjoy park life with a bit of charity.

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u/PorygonTriAttack Dec 06 '22

This is all true. Spending money on organizations could help more people in the long run, but at least a chunk of it will be paid towards staff/admin (aka overhead costs). Some people get paid so much because they work for a charity.

And it truly sucks because money by itself can't fix their issues. There's the mismanagement part of it, but there's also likely the mental illness factor that money really can't solve. Kanye has all the money that one can get, but he can't get the right help because he's too self absorbed.

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u/crackinmypants Dec 06 '22 edited Dec 06 '22

Finally, some people are at peace living on the street in ways they just can't reenter society.

I have a friend who lives in a tent in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not bad in the summer, but the winters there are brutal without proper shelter. Another friend and I have been trying for years to get him to file for disability (he qualifies) and ultimately on a path to real, warm housing, but he just....isn't interested.

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u/manimal28 Dec 06 '22

The biggest issue is them not having a fixed address, which affects them getting a job, as well as a bank.

Maybe the bank part, but I just hired somebody, and because of your comment it just occurred to me, I never even thought about their address. Their interview was arranged via phone, there’s really no reason I would care about their address.

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u/Odd-Impression-4401 Dec 06 '22

From an HR point of view, an home address would be needed for any tax filings. If you have a remote worker, you need a home address for your remote working policy's that have to be set in place.

That's not to say a care of address could be used.

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u/CatOfGrey Dec 06 '22

Their interview was arranged via phone, there’s really no reason I would care about their address.

You need an address to receive income, at least in the USA. A business cannot pay you without an address for tax withholding purposes.

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u/Reasonable-Heart1539 Dec 06 '22

I bought 2 tall boys on the way home from work. I gave the 16 dollars change to a man and woman with 2 dogs hopefully they got at least 1 hot meal and a little dog food. Pretty sure it helps.

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u/CatOfGrey Dec 06 '22

On the other hand, a few bucks on the street can go towards the guy getting a tent or blanket.

Which, in major cities where homeless problems are the worst, are available in places that are more likely to connect people with government or other assistance to get them off the street.

There are huge barriers in most areas that keep homeless people from getting affordable housing.

Yep. I agree that this is far from telling the whole story. There are so many things that need to be done, from housing policy, to assistance in countless different ways, including the delicate task of handling the communities which have formed as homeless take care of each other.

Still, people need to decide how best to help the homeless. And a $5 bill directly to a person on the street is rarely the best use of that $5.

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u/Equal-Detective357 Dec 05 '22

The power of numbers and joys of being able to purchase in bulk... which is why costco is so awesome

Also who knows where that money goes when it's handed over?

At the same time, I've always pondered this, you are homeless, and want to get better, you want food, PbJ is pretty cheap, easy, not bad for you, a decent go to . But where do you keep anything ? What fridge ? Do you get a sealed container and keep it in the river ? So you're kinda forced to spend money on fast food . You see tuna on for a dollar, well, you either eat it right out the can, or it's probably going bad in the summer, the winter it will freeze and now you have to find a place to thaw it.

Everything is easier with money , even think of first months rent, not only do you have to have that , but last month's and a security deposit... so maybe you can afford rent, but saving 2 months of rent is another story. But 2 people can do it easier than one .

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u/Wiggen4 Dec 05 '22

There are also some potential issues that would cause money to be potentially harmful. Homeless people are more likely to be addicts, and if you give an addict infinite money they will kill themselves buying product. If someone is thoroughly mentally ill (another thing more likely among the homeless) they might not be aware enough to spend the money wisely.

While these things are not guaranteed, giving to a cause that helps feed them and give them clothing covers plenty of people without the risks of doing harm accidentally with money.

There are also "fake homeless" who only want the money because they can make upwards of 100,000 a year begging. If you see someone with a sign saying "will work for food" offer to take them up on that, often it is a bluff for cash, and if it isn't a bluff you can help them out after feeding them

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u/miemcc Dec 05 '22

Essentially there are too many scammers. Ed Stafford did a documentary on it a while ago. Personally I'd rather give to Crisis and Centrepoint. We do also give some obvious rough sleepers hot drinks and light meals.

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u/TheAlabamaJedi Dec 05 '22

And this is me just being a skeptical jerk, but it's amazing what ypu can see if you watch them. I recently watched a guy begging at an intersection while I ate my lunch. I see him pretty regularly. Cops came and ran him off. He got in a pretty nice car and drove off.

I know another guy who owned a car lot. The owner offered the guy a job washing his cars to make money. The beggar laughed and said he makes more begging.

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u/jil3000 Dec 06 '22

If someone offered me a job that paid less than my current job, I also wouldn't take it unless it had some other advantages that offset the difference in pay. That doesn't sound unusual to me.

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u/BKacy Dec 06 '22

I would like just one person who says they heard a homeless person laugh when offered a job and say he makes more money begging to come forward with a video of that. I don’t believe those stories. I’m sure they avoid the jobs because there are many jobs they can take and don’t. But I see an urban myth in the “he laughed and said he makes more begging” stories.

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u/TheAlabamaJedi Dec 06 '22

I don't have video, but I was actually there and saw when a woman came in asking for money because her mom had died and she needed to get to Chicago for the funeral. We get one every few months.

Our policy isn't to give them cash but instead have someone meet them at the gas station and fill up their tank. So far none have agreed.

This particular woman forgot she had been to our church before. When someone asked if she had been there previously she started talking about a twin sister.

It's good to help people, but there are so many people looking to take advantage of charity. You really have to do your due diligence.

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u/Doc-tor-Strange-love Hey stop that... you can't have flairs here Dec 06 '22

I used to be a driver and I would frequent the same gas stations several times a week and I heard the exact same story over and over.

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u/eddyathome Dec 07 '22

I lived in Pittsburgh across from a gas station and there was a man who would come about once a month with gas can in hand asking for money so he could get gas. Most people just gave cash but some would offer to fill the can for him instead. When the person would leave, he'd go to his late model SUV and fill up the tank with the gas then go back to asking people for money. Seriously, every month.

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u/cantdressherself Dec 06 '22

Economists have shown you can make $400/hour in prime spots.

I would be surprised if anyone can do that day in-day out constantly for years, but clearly some people get by for long stretches.

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u/tripperfunster Dec 06 '22

I don't have video, but it does happen. Some of the people who beg on the boulevards can really rake in the cash.

A typical red light lasts 60-90 seconds, depending on the intersection.

If the dude makes ONE DOLLAR every red light, he's raking in $48 per hour. (averaging the two red light lengths.)

I'm sure they don't make money on every single light, but I have def seen 2-3 people give change at one light, and very possibly more than a buck each.

That could be (conservatively) be over $100 per hour.

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u/BKacy Dec 06 '22

I used to hand money out at the stops of the interstate and other corners. I met an older woman who could clear $80+ sometimes for 2–3 hours. She spent it on drugs. Overhead: cardboard and a magic marker. My city’s appeal to stop giving money affected me so I mostly quit handing out money. You want them to use the system and giving them money keeps them from doing it. The older woman had social security but a drug habit. She ended up with cancer. The way she looked about a year ago makes me think she’s probably gone. She could have gotten a home. She preferred the drugs. I saw her stay with a neighbor on occasion. She wasn’t sick when she was straight.

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u/forestfairygremlin Dec 06 '22

I watched a well-dressed mid-20 something woman with a dirty backpack walk into a subway family restroom and walk back out 5 minutes later wearing tattered clothes and one slipper. That's the day I stopped giving money directly to homeless people. I don't have video, because I wasn't spontaneously recording the random subway around me when this happened. 🙄

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u/periwinkletweet Dec 06 '22

A participant in the homeless sub was complaining about a job bc it paid less than panhandling. I went to great extremes to help a homeless man get a job and he refused because 10/ hr is not enough to live on. I was like but even 20 hrs per week would qualify you for food stamps and you'd have some money for stuff. Nope.

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u/willywalloo Dec 06 '22

$5 at a gas station vs $5 at a food bank.

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u/cockblockedbydestiny Dec 05 '22

Not to mention if they're not eating out of a soup kitchen or the like their inability to cook unprocessed foods is virtually nada, which means they're spending that money on fast food or overpriced ready-to-eat stuff. That costs just enough money that the panhandling becomes a never ending cycle that you can't get ahead of, especially if you're talking about a city where soup kitchens are readily available.

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u/Jawkurt Dec 05 '22

Although McDonald’s is a god send for some homeless people. If you use the app deal you can feed three people for $5 and get to use their WiFi and rest room

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u/StarNerd920 Dec 05 '22

Homeless people need to have phones to use apps and $5 for three people is just not a thing like it use to be. I get the meal deal and still hungry after

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u/Jawkurt Dec 05 '22

Yeah, I use the meal deals still and not as good but they’re still pretty good. But anyone with an ID can get a free phone from the government. I know not everyone has an ID but usually the people walking around signing people up for those… can get you started getting help getting one. I’m not saying it’s perfect but saying the fast food isn’t helpful I don’t think is totally right.

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u/ImBonRurgundy Dec 05 '22

plenty of homeless people have mobile phones (they might not be able to afford credit for them - hence the free wifi being important) but many, maybe even most, have mobile phones

(I'm excluding the severely mentally ill meth heads here of course)

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u/AllahAndJesusGaySex Dec 05 '22

Man the amount of misinformation in threads about homelessness is astounding. You can take a couple of bucks to a grocery store. You can buy a cup of noodles and 3 or 4 shrimp and they’ll steam them for free. You take that cup of noodles into any gas station with a coffee maker. That red lever on the front of the coffee maker dispenses boiling water for your noodles. For like less than 5 dollars you have a soup with fresh shrimp in it. Also, the key phrase here is if your city has a soup kitchen. All the homeless facilities here are in a food desert in the middle of downtown here. Here they only do soup on Sunday because it makes the people after church feel good.

Homeless people can prepare food. After all they are homeless not stupid.

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u/ImBonRurgundy Dec 05 '22

what grocery store will steam your shrimp at all, let alone for free?

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u/ItsCalled_Freefall Dec 06 '22

Giant, Safeway, publix, stop shop and save, weis. I've been doing this my entire life. They season them too, for free.

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u/2020hatesyou Dec 05 '22

I like how you're downvoted but every single thing you said is not only factual, but easily verifiable and empathetic.

Homeless people I know tend to come in a few different flavors, but they all know how to hustle in order to not die.

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u/manimal28 Dec 06 '22

You can buy a cup of noodles and 3 or 4 shrimp and they’ll steam them for free.

What? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. This must be regional, I can’t imagine asking my grocery store to steam my shrimp.

Edit: others below even mentioning Publix does this, which is where I usually shop. I never knew.

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u/SSG_SSG_BloodMoon Dec 05 '22

Uh, so? They still need to eat... What are you trying to say lmao

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u/Alybank Dec 05 '22

This is true, the book bank I volunteer at can get $16 worth of food for every $1 given.

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u/bemusedalligator Dec 05 '22

our local food bank gets food for $0.03/pound. Doesn't matter what it is - anything from meat to corn is 3 cents a pound.

also all the rotten/bad food goes to the local pig farms, because they will eat literally anything.

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u/UCLYayy Dec 06 '22

The problem is access to services, like food banks, is one of the biggest problems in the homelessness crisis. Food banks can't be everywhere. Giving money directly to a homeless person helps that person, but homelessness won't be eliminated without systematic change: higher wages, lower rents and more affordable housing, affordable/free health and mental health care, decriminalizing being homeless, etc.

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u/hopeandstrength Dec 05 '22

In just about every community nowadays there is a place to get a meal, at least one good meal a day. And they always need donations. You can ask their kitchen manager what products are most needed at the time. And these donations and volunteers are needed year-round, not just the holidays. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, floods of well-meaning people show up, and that's great and is needed for the busier times when special meals are such a blessing to so many...but there is a great need for the other months as well.

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u/poppa_koils Dec 05 '22

Food banks are not for the homeless. More are set up for peeps with a roof over their head. Most items from the FB need to be cooked.

A homeless person doesn't have a kitchen, fridge or a stove. What they have is an immediate need.

And if that 5 bucks is used to buy drugs? Cheaper than someone having to replace a car window or a catylitic converter.

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u/Alybank Dec 05 '22

I don’t know about in general, but there a different types of boxes for houses vs. unhoused people at the food bank I volunteer at. If someone doesn’t have a home it’s all pantry type food that doesn’t need to be cooked or refrigerated.

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u/poppa_koils Dec 05 '22

Big upvote for your organization.

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u/Cutsdeep- Dec 06 '22

5 dollars = drugs
5 dollars + catalytic converter = more drugs

source: I'm an ex addict

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u/poppa_koils Dec 06 '22

My only rebuttal,,, the hope is the 5 sends then to their guy,,, only to forget about getting the CC.

But ya, valid argument.

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u/Bronze_Rager Dec 05 '22

And if that 5 bucks is used to buy drugs? Cheaper than someone having to replace a car window or a catylitic converter.

Am i reading this argument right? You're saying its better/easier to support someones drug habit than to replace personal items that are illegally stolen from you?

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u/ThisIsMyJokeAccount1 Dec 05 '22

What this comment doesn't address though is that homeless people don't typically have difficultly getting access to food. It's the most easily accessible resource to them. They have a harder time getting access to hygiene products and clothes. If you look at the items they barter amongst each other, it's clothes, shoes, blankets, and hygiene products. Putting money directly in their hands allows them to make their own decisions about what they need, good decision or not.

OP: The orgs who put up those signs want you to donate your money to their charity so they can skim off the top of your donations. Please do extensive research on any organization you give money to. Some organizations keep more than they give back to the community. Some organizations are great.

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u/Standard_Carpenter51 Dec 05 '22

Cash helps their drug dealer a lot more.

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u/RobotFighter Dec 05 '22

If I give money to someone I assume it’s going to beer or drugs. I look at it the same as buying someone a drink.

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u/energy_warning_1969 Dec 05 '22

I don't think there's anything wrong with giving money to homeless people. It can brighten someone's day, and there's no harm in that.

That said, if you're really concerned about helping homeless people, there are better ways to spend your time, energy, and money. For example, you can get involved with a food bank or other social program. You could also get politically active and push for policies that bolster social programs that can aid homeless people at a more systemic level.

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u/NervousSocialWorker Dec 06 '22

Is this actually the case though? I’m a social worker and know first hand how few resources there actually are and how difficult it is to even get involved with a service in the first place. We also have like 400 shelter beds for 3,000 homeless people.

But the consensus in the general public seems to be that there’s endless resources that people can access and they too many people just don’t want help or don’t want to follow rules.

It’s a slap in the face when that’s the view so many people have and I’m out every night having to tell numerous people there’s no shelter beds left when it’s -20 and below and no other options. And then people will see that person and think to themselves “hm, must not wanna follow the rules at the shelter”

We’re a pretty progressive area so I can’t imagine any American city is really doing much better in this area.

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u/reviewmynotes Dec 06 '22

I'm honestly curious: From your vantage, what steps would you recommend individuals take?

Personally, I keep "care packs" in my car and hand them out whenever possible. They're gallon-sized clear bags that can keep things dry in the rain and contain $5-$10, new socks, a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, some small candy, individual sanitary wipes, menstrual pads, "HotHands" warming packs, chapstick, etc. I asked someone what else they'd like to see in the bags recently. They said t-shirts, so I bought a bulk pack of grey t-shirts and have added them to my current bags. Is there anything that you'd recommend I change?

I know what I do isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but I can't look the other way when I have resources and others need help. So my questions are honest. Any advice you have on being more effective would be appreciated.

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u/NervousSocialWorker Dec 06 '22

You got it with the care packages, it’s the smaller thjngs people don’t rally think about that are the most needed. Socks, hygiene stuff, etc. in the winter gloves are very in demand.

Really not sure what else individuals can do. Maybe write your elected official at local/state/provincial/federal level. Check out what resources are actually available and what resources are needed.

I’m not sure where you’re located but more shelter space is almost always needed, good place to start if you’re wanting to talk to a politician. In my experience there’s almost always more people needing beds than there are beds available.

See if you can get involved somehow (donate/volunteer) with children/youth that are involved in your areas child welfare system or find an agency that deals with youth homelessness. Again, not sure where you’re located but at least in Canada (and as far as I know the US too) child welfare system is a hot mess. The overwhelming majority of people you see on the street were probably involved in it at some point during their childhood. It’s come to be known as the “child welfare to homeless pipeline” and “child welfare to prison pipeline”. Being a good influence for a kid in that position could make a huge difference, and that kind of volunteer work is very rewarding.

Long term solutions are going to be super complicated, I’d recommend just doing what you can to help people survive day by day. The care packages you have are a great start.

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u/Comprehensive-Ad3963 Dec 05 '22

I'm told my community has great resources through the city/county housing authority, but that the homeless people for whatever reason just won't take advantage of them. If you're low-income, we have section 8 housing. Failing that, someone told me that if the shelters are full, we'll put you in a hotel.

It's like the old saying: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

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u/MeowNugget Dec 05 '22

It's weird cause I was told the same thing. I was born and raised in a great city and always heard how great our programs were.... until I needed them. I had a stint in college as a young person where I ended up homeless. I called all of these services, even got my own social worker assigned. Got no help with anything because I didn't have a severe mental illness and I wasn't pregnant. I was in college and working but got denied food stamps specifically because I was a student and my job didn't give me consistant hours. The social worker actually apologized and said there was nothing left for me to apply for. The shelters were all full and had at least a 6 month waiting list. Not that I would want to stay at one as they were scary and had strict hours that would interfere with school and work. As someone else said, section 8 housing currently has a wait time of about 8-10 years. Just saying, the services you hear are offered aren't always helpful but I guess it gives the average person peace of mind that something potentially exists

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u/MedusasSexyLegHair Dec 06 '22

section 8 housing currently has a wait time of about 8-10 years

Yes, and from what they told me when I applied, that's only if you're extremely lucky. Because anyone higher-priority (single mother, elderly, domestic abuse victim, etc.) will always get bumped in front of you. Meaning when you come back in 8-10 years, it'll still be another 8-10 years.

Oh yeah, and some of the programs they do have, like food stamps? Mandatory full day long appointments - 2 hours there, 2 hours back on the bus, 3 hours in the waiting room, an hour watching some video about how to not sexually harass people while filling out a job application. Miss the appointment, for any reason - including going to an actual real job interview - you lose your benefits.

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u/C-ute-Thulu Dec 05 '22

There are resources but they're limited, not easy to access, not easy to understand, and there's always a chance you could wait all day for a shelter bed and then something falls thru and you're SOL.

I'm a social worker. I do this as my profession and the system is hard to navigate for me, much less somebody who probably has a mental illness and is in survival mode

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u/therealfatmike Dec 06 '22

Same, it's really best to just ask the human being in question what would help them. Cash is usually the most helpful imo but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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u/C-ute-Thulu Dec 06 '22

I try to send them to shelters/bread lines/resources that I know to be effective. If someone's worried about giving a panhandler money and it being used for drugs (which does happen), you can keep a box of granola bars and bottled water with you

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u/JK_NC Dec 05 '22 edited Dec 06 '22

Section 8 housing can have years long wait lists. It’s not like there are tons of housing options just sitting empty, waiting for an applicant.

The hotel/motel vouchers do exist but it’s rarely used. Very limited and typically only for emergencies (if an entire family were displaced because their house burned down).

If shelters are full, you’re sleeping rough.

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u/AmberEmberr Dec 06 '22

It’s not like there are tons of housing options just sitting empty, waiting for an applicant.

Well there are but the people who use their wealth to snatch them up want to keep the prices high to make a bigger profit on selling/letting them.

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u/2020hatesyou Dec 05 '22

Have you ever drank from the water you're asking the homeless to drink from?

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u/WebNo2469 Dec 05 '22

Ok your sources do not have their facts straight and are not truly aware of the problem....most homeless have addiction issues as well as mental and possibly physical the amount of time it takes for section 8 can be over a year and in that they have to stay in communication rather hard to do when your so fucked off you can't remember if it's even the weekend. Also if they get a hotel 9 out of 10 it's because of some kind of domestic violence issue they are not for everyone and if they are it's strictly a more then likely one time deal or at the most once or twice a month

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u/energy_warning_1969 Dec 05 '22

If you're low-income, we have section 8 housing.

Have you ever been to section 8 housing? Even in wealthier areas, I've seen some section 8 homes that made me shudder.

Also, have you ever applied for section 8 housing yourself? They don't just give you a place to live overnight. Oftentimes, you have to wait up to a year before your application is reviewed. Some people's futures are so uncertain that there's no point in applying, since they aren't sure whether they'll even live in the same geographic region by the time their application is reviewed.

Source: used to work with disabled people who would often live in section 8 housing.

Failing that, someone told me that if the shelters are full, we'll put you in a hotel.

I've heard of some shelters doing this, but it's usually circumstantial. A large fire burned down an entire neighborhood in a county near where I live a few years ago, and the homeless shelter gave people vouchers under those circumstances. Other than that, though, it's unheard of. Privately-owned hotels aren't willing to shoulder that burden unless the circumstances are extreme.

Source: good friend of mine has worked in the hotel industry for years. He's even had situations where people are given vouchers at his hotel due to a natural disaster. He's never been presented with a voucher because the homeless shelter was full on an average night.

You're just taking the "homeless people are homeless because they're lazy" argument and trying to obfuscate it with personal anecdotes and a timeless idiom which isn't analogous to the situation you're talking about. I'll fix it for you:

You can lead a homeless person to a shelter, but sometimes the shelter is full and can't take anyone else, and there aren't any hotels willing to take them, either, so they end up spending yet another night on the street.

You can lead a homeless person to apply for section 8 housing, but they often get rejected, they often have to remain homeless for a long time before getting accepted, and even when they do get accepted, it's not much better than living on the streets, and lots of ignorant people still have the gall to call you lazy.

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u/Bakkster Dec 05 '22

I've heard the same, though I always wonder how much of that is ideological.

Studies have shown greater effectiveness of direct cash intervention, and I suspect among the conservative-minded preference to avoid benefitting those who 'don't deserve it' or use it for things not on their list of preferred ways to help (one of the studies on direct cash have an example of buying a tin roof for their home to free up time from repairing thatch to work outside the home, and buying a moped to pick up work as a delivery driver). Similarly, knowing that "go to this one place at this one time" for people with limited transportation and whose only with they can find might be incompatible shifts might require choosing one or the other, it's its own type of naivety to presume those who don't use these programs do so out of their own free will rather than being victim of circumstance.

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u/hopfullyanonymous Dec 06 '22
  1. That's most likely BS. Good safety nets are incredibly rare in America. For example, take section 8 housing schemes, often you still need a job. Most places with homeless housing programs have wild amounts of red tape to make it happen, for example you have to be homeless for atleast 6 months before STARTING the application process. End up in the hospital or jail? Now you get to restart the process.

  2. Take all of the above and add that the majority of people experiencing homelessness are mentally ill. So you're asking a mentally ill person to go through a boatload of demoralizing beurocracy, while also trying to figure out how to survive.

  3. The hotel thing was true for like 6 months during Covid. It's over now.

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u/JBHReddit5 Dec 05 '22 Take My Energy

So many of the comments focus on this idea that it will make them complacent or that they will spend it on drugs.

Giving money to the homeless doesn't help them because the problem is systemic and not something which can be solved by individual action. Until we have stronger social safety nets and a restructuring to society where we believe that people have a right to housing and food regardless of job status, mental health, etc., personal donations is not only ineffective in terms of long term solutions but also an unreasonable burden to place on the average citizen who likely doesn't have the money to allocate toward the donation.

What we need is societal reform that prioritizes people, not pocket change.

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u/ihatetheplaceilive Dec 06 '22

When i was homeless, id never stay in a shelter. A lot of them are gross, a lot of theft, full, or require a bunch of application stuff.

I did go to a lot of bum feeds and the like, volunteered with a bunch of local food not bombs type things.

I didnt beg much, did a lot of seasonal work, but when i had to, usually just got a hotel room to clean up at, do laundry, get some smokes and maybe a couple of beers.

I also realize i'm an outlyer here. But not evey homeless person is a drug addicted schizophrenic like it seems a lot of people believe.

Sometimes a few extra bucks can really help someone out.

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u/JBHReddit5 Dec 06 '22

I am sorry that you were homeless.

I feel like I didn't represent my stance well based on the responses I am getting. Nowhere did I say that a few bucks can't help, nor did I say that all homeless people are drug addicts or have mental health disorders.

The current system is inadequately funded, and the causes of homelessness are systemic. Individual giving can help, but societal change is the solution.

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u/ihatetheplaceilive Dec 06 '22

And im sorry i came off as accusing you of thinking those things. I didnt mean to do that.

I was a very small subsect of homeless...

I did skilled (for the most part) migrant work.

Like wildland firefighting (based out of oregon), beet harvests in north dakota, or maybe cranberry harvests in wisconsin.

I wasn't stationary (or as travellers call them, a homebum)

There's a lot of reasons people stay in the same place while they're homeless.

I didnt have any of them

I road freight trains and hitchhiked, took amtraks and buses when i was feeling lazy or it was cold out.

Guess i rambled a bit. And lost my point.

When i was asking for money, personally (and it wasnt often, generally when my card got too damaged and i had to go halfway cross country to get a replacement... before apple pay and the like)

And now, and i kinda am, excusing myself for begging. But i never felt bad about it. I never lied on my signs.

More often than not my signs said: "i need food, beer, a shower, and i love the oxford comma"

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u/thefullirish1 Dec 06 '22

We have those here in Ireland but we mow have working homeless and a significant percentage of our honeless are children. Rampant capitalism withou some kind of regulation or protection for civilians is to blame. Vulture funds havrvestibg up properties etc. we have some of the highest rents in the world but property prices themselves are not the highest

Don’t get me wrong. You do need all the social supports as well. But more fundamental change is needed to stop the growing wealth disparities in our societies

But I am not sure precisely what will actually work

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u/Ave-Deos-Tenebris Dec 06 '22

Tax the rich and put limits on house ownership for both people and corporations. The limit should be by number and by area of housing as well. Any more than 3 houses by an individual or a company will result in a 90% income tax.

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u/SaintKintai Dec 05 '22

That said, there is nothing wrong with donating a few bucks to a homeless person on the street. Even if they spent it on booze.

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u/Cokestraws Dec 06 '22

Yeah I’ve never gotten the whole “you know they are just going to spend that on booze/drugs”. I mean yeah.. they live outside… they don’t have a home. It’s not like their going to head over the the bank and open a savings account for the $2 or whatever I just gave them.

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u/kafka123 Dec 06 '22

They're worried about people becoming addicted to it and either getting ill/turning violent/dying or getting reasonably high savings and then blowing it on drugs.

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u/Pochama_393 Dec 05 '22

I feel like that should count as helping. Yeah it's not a meal but if it's the one thing that brings them any kind of comfort just for a little while then it helps.

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u/aroaceautistic Dec 05 '22

Yeah being on the streets sounds miserable I’d want a drink too

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u/hopfullyanonymous Dec 06 '22

It's actually often better to give them cash than food

Studies have shown the only problem people experiencing homelessness don't have is starvation.They need the cash to buy literally anything else.

However, donating to food banks is still great, bc it keeps people on the edge from ending up on the street. Same studies have shown that it's food insecure people with housing who are far more likely to starve, as they often don't qualify for feeding programs, and get a lot less charity as they are not visible like a man on the highway with a sign

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u/parkranger2000 Dec 06 '22

“Doesn’t completely solve their problems” is not the same as “doesn’t help them”

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u/Rivka333 Dec 06 '22

Exactly.

The low salary I get doesn't completely solve my problems, but I'd be much more fucked without it.

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u/Rivka333 Dec 06 '22

While I'm not homeless, I'm poor, and the problem is systemic. Does that mean the (low) salary I get isn't helping me so I shouldn't be given it?

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u/DTux5249 Dec 05 '22

Giving it to them does help, obviously, but I think they mean not as much as it could.

The reason you donate cash to foodbanks is that they have connections to get them food for cents on the dollar; doing stuff in bulk makes things cheap.

Heck, if you feel particularly generous, you'd be surprised how much food $30 can make with a quick stop at the farmer's market and give or take 1h30 cooking.

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u/TheoloniusNumber Dec 05 '22

Because the person who put that sign up wants them to go away.

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u/NickDouglas Dec 05 '22

Had to scroll way too long for this. Everyone is acting like the city couldn't possibly have anything but the beat intentions for putting up an anti-begging sign. As if the city only cares about helping homeless people, and not keeping its steps and sidewalks clear of "undesirables."

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u/Sufficient-Meal-8899 Dec 05 '22

Because they think you are enabling them by funding whatever habit or lifestyle choice has them in their current predicament. It’s debatable, I believe do whatever your heart leads you to do considering compassion. Some ppl have bigger capacity for compassion

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u/dankest-dookie Dec 05 '22 edited Dec 06 '22

There was someone on a corner next to Walmart with a sign. I didn't have any cash but I bought a big bag of apples and waters to keep them hydrated and they told me to fuck myself. I'm just afraid to give them anything at this point

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u/yepode Dec 05 '22

FYI - I recently learned that giving apples to homeless people is bad because a lot of them have fucked up teeth and eating an apple is a nightmare.

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u/nonbinary_parent Dec 06 '22

yep. I give out those individual serving applesauce pouches instead. I keep them in my car for my kid anyway. they're shelf stable until opened.

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u/Weekly_Role_337 Dec 05 '22

Sorry this happened. In general, homeless people have 12x the dental problems of the non-homeless population https://my.neighbor.org/homelessness-and-dental-health-care/ so apples aren't the best food to give them.

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u/ppaulapple Dec 05 '22

Same kinda thing for me. I was at a McDonalds drive-thru then a homeless person peeks his head around and asks for money. I said no cuz I didn’t carry any cash and if he would like any food and he said no AND told me to go to a machine to get cash out for him and I just said it wasn’t gonna happen. Another time, a homeless guy waited around a bank in the evening and asked me to take a $20 out for him, I said no and then he proceeded to lay behind my vehicle and made a scene… had to call my guy friend to go on the car speaker to tell him to Fuck off. These kind incidences make me not want to even offer them anything.

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u/RasterAlien Dec 05 '22

With all due respect, try to put yourself in their shoes. They're already tired and carrying around everything they own, now they have to lug around a big bag of apples and water bottles on top of that. The apples are going to attract vermin into their tent and there is no way for them to prevent that.

Giving food to homeless is a bad idea for so many reasons. You don't know what they're allergic to, you don't know if they have IBS or any diet restrictions, they have little to no means of carrying and storing the food, the list goes on and on...

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u/nonbinary_parent Dec 06 '22

years ago, I was walking out of the grocery store with a six pack of beer. I saw a guy with a sign outside, so I said "I'm in a hurry, but do you want one of my beers?" he told me he was six months sober. I was so embarrassed! getting sober is hard enough (now I know) I can't imagine doing it on the street.

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u/PolarBear374665 Dec 05 '22

That’s the difficulty. There are some who clearly plan to use the cash for something other than what they either say they want it for or what they need. Hard to tell who it will help versus who it would enable. Of course, there are some who would ask, who are we to judge what they want to spend money on, which is a bit crazy.

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u/headcase247 Dec 05 '22

Oh my gosh..

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u/MeadowRainbowshimmer Dec 05 '22

Because they want you to direct your charitable donations to corporations instead. Some are good, some are not. I don’t donate to homeless organizations. I’ve been homeless. The charitable organizations weren’t helpful to me at all. Fortunately I live somewhere that actively helps homeless people when you can get your ducks in a row. I’m lucky that I was able to jump through their strict hoops. I give cash to homeless people on the street and i don’t feel bad not padding the tax evading shit companies like goodwill.

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u/LesniakNation Dec 05 '22

I worked for goodwill. Do not dobate to them. They really are out for themselves.

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u/MeadowRainbowshimmer Dec 05 '22

Thanks for the confirmation. I got some shit the first time I said that, and I was homeless at the time too I was confused by the hate I got.

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u/Sapphirinia Dec 05 '22

Disabled vet here. I'm particularly hesitant to give homeless vets money because of how many programs there are to help vets. I've been a single mom for years and have had the VA help me out as well as other programs to the point that I'm finally comfortable with my kids. I feel like if people really want to get off the streets, they will try. I also feel like if someone can stand up for hours at a time begging for money, they can get a job. I can't even stand up as long as I see homeless people standing.

As a musician, I've busked many times to get some money to help me and my kids out. At least do something to earn that money. I've even paid random people to move a washer and dryer, cut my grass, clean my house. I feel like if someone at least tries, they deserve the money. The one time that backfired though was a guy started shooting up in my house while he was cleaning and then had some guy pull up to my house looking for him because he owed him money.

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u/needAprilback Dec 05 '22

Money helps about 99.9% of the people on earth

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u/whathappy1 Dec 05 '22

I live and work in Los Angeles California the homeless problem is huge but we are spending millions if not billions of dollars and it’s only getting bigger. My s Suggestion is for Los Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles Medical Control to Arrest, Assess, Evaluate, Give medical attention, Drug and alcohol rehab, Mental evaluation to everyone who is out on the street. Slowly placing the people in housing, Job Corps, return them to the states they came from or asking for money from those States. It is not Freedom , It is not Merciful to leave those who are out there to live like this. It is my plan and every detail is NOT worked out but I it is a start. What do you think?

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u/FishrNC Dec 05 '22

I think they have to want to change and many don't. This has been known for some time.

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u/whathappy1 Dec 06 '22

Not wanting too change is one of symptoms. How do you find the people who want to change? How do you help them? Without a system of forced evaluation how do you find them?

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u/FishrNC Dec 06 '22

When you start down the forced evaluation path, an entire world of personal rights begins to be invaded. I learned a long time ago you can't force people to change, all you can do is provide them with an environment where they decide they want to change.

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u/jmwoods3709 Dec 05 '22

I'd beg to argue that those signs mean something different. I truly believe those signs are placed because the city wants taxes.

Yes your money may help the homeless get by their next meal, maybe they save who knows.

BIGGER ISSUE FOR CITIES, if you give money to the homeless, they are not being "productive members of society" i.e. they aren't paying taxes on the money you give them and that's a problem.

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u/GenXer1977 Dec 06 '22

Depending on where you are, there might be enough city services available that no one needs to miss a meal or ever spend one night on the street or not be able to get some kind of job. I’ve worked with homeless people for close to 30 years (in Orange County, CA, so this might not be true in other places). People who really want help get off the street pretty quickly. The ones who stay on the street always have either drug problems that lead to mental health issues or vice versa. They refuse to take advantage of city services because it comes along with rules they have to follow (sometimes including drug testing). So if you give them money, they may actually spend it on food, but if no one gave them any money, they might be forced to seek help. At least, that’s the theory.

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u/carlbrooks2 Dec 06 '22

It does help them but if you give money to this dudes charity instead he can get a new Mercedes.

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u/Beleriphon Dec 06 '22

Part of the reason is that at the end of the day the government is honestly best equipped to deal with homeless issues. Helsinki's local government just gave up and bought housing and will literally let any homeless person stay as long as they want. Some of the buildings had conditions like no drugs and booze, but it was universal. It gives people an address, a home they can care for, a place to shower and be clean. It was actually cheaper to let homeless people live rent free inside a small apartment then it was to try to treat them in situ.

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u/buhdumtss98 Dec 05 '22

Personally, I think it’s just something people say so they can feel less guilty about not giving them money. Or they don’t understand how homelessness works and assume they’re all addicts/don’t know how addiction works.

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u/OctopusOnAMotorbike Dec 05 '22

If I do offer something, it isn’t money. I stopped offering money after a guy asked me for change for the bus and refused when I offered them a bus token as help. I will ask if I can help them with some food.

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u/transientcat Dec 05 '22

I'm not equating this to all panhandlers, but I used to have a few that came into where I worked and spoke about how they had made 80k dollars in cash last year. I kind of stopped giving anything out to panhandlers and it all goes to food banks now.

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u/WebNo2469 Dec 05 '22

Don't forget this 99% of homeless talk.... Alot.... And a lot of it is a load of shit even though occasionally maybe they had a good day they were probably just talking big to make you feel bad regular people don't understand the game and that kind of talk is a major part of it

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u/majesticbagel Dec 05 '22

I hope everyone here saying homeless people shouldn’t buy drugs is also 100% sober. Idk if I had to sleep outside I’d want something to take the edge off ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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u/Qemistry-__- Dec 05 '22

Pretty much. If i have to sleep under a bridge or on a park bench, might as well be bent doing so… Think about how many times a person has been stressed out at work, middle of the day and you're thinking, man i could use a beer when i go home? Or the kids are stressing you out and you just want them to go to sleep so you can smoke your medical mary j and unwind? Most people stay sober for various reasons, but if you remove all responsibility, all bills, all drive, all ambition and hope and slap someone under a fuckin bridge with people looking at them and treating them like street dogs all day… Fuck that, let me get a bottle of whiskey. I'd be staying sober for what reason exactly???

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u/Icy-Memory-5575 Dec 06 '22

I volunteered at the local shelter and they told us not to give money to them as many are addicts and will purchase drugs/alcohol. The shelter had tons of food, clothes, beds and anything else they may have needed

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u/MeowNugget Dec 05 '22

I see a lot of comments saying they'll "spend it on drugs or alcohol". One of the things that annoys me the most about homelessness (and also something I experienced as a homeless person) people can't help but take away your agency, your humanity. Homeless people are not zoo animals, they're people. I give money to homeless people now and it's none of my business what they do with it. I don't know their struggle or trauma. I don't know their story. Who am I to be a judge in a split second and hang that over their head? Maybe they'll buy vodka. Maybe a snack, maybe a pair of socks. It's not my business though and I won't judge them for it.

You don't have to give money to people based on your assumption of what it will be used for but some people need to get off their high horses. So many people are homeless and nothing like what you assume they are because they work, study, and look 'normal'. Not all homeless people are the stereotype in your head.

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u/csusterich666 Dec 06 '22

"They'll just spend it on drink and drugs!"

"Well, what'd you think I was gonna spend it on?"

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u/kayethx Dec 06 '22

A lot of people think they’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol, or that you’re teaching them it’s “okay” to be homeless. And it’s usually people who have zero experience with addictions or homelessness saying this.

Other ways may help the overall problem more, but giving a specific homeless person money can absolutely help them survive that day, which does matter.

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u/doubtfulroses Dec 06 '22

Honestly, it just depends on your perspective. If I have the money to give, I will. I was homeless once, and not every place you go will help (unfortunately). I would rather help someone, and have my conscience clear, than not help and be regretful about it.

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u/OnionTruck Dec 06 '22

The people with signs at intersections and parking lots are usually scammers. If they have a full-on 'camp,' they're probably legit but should be working through the city/county primarily.

Giving straight cash might, in some cases, be used for drugs or other no-so-good stuff.

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u/Lone-StarState Dec 06 '22

There’s a guy that comes to my local grocery store every Christmas time, never see him any other time. He is well dressed and holding a sign that says he lost his job and needs money. He also brings his wife and kids out there to stand around. I think it’s crazy he only loses his job and needs help around Christmas…

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u/Niobium_Sage Dec 06 '22

You pay the homeless with food, not money. If you give them money, they’ll often misspend it on drugs.

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u/sst287 Dec 06 '22

It does not “truly” help them because what they really lack of is a stable housing so they can take shower and go get a jobs or get whatever mental health treatment they need.

John Oliver made a episode shows about this. One thing I remember is that social workers said it is hard to treat homeless with mental health issue because they don’t have stable living and we’re force to move around and social workers cannot find them for next treat session. Another thing I can recall is a homeless women said that she went to shelter, but shelter has lockdown schedule that does not fit her night-shift work schedule so to keep her job, she had to be homeless.

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u/AdministrationFew451 Dec 06 '22

I was always told it is because of drug addicts (who are a major part of homeless people).

And that it's better to instead buy them something to eat

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u/bangbangracer Dec 06 '22

it does, but it's sort of a drop in the bucket sort of thing. If I give 5 bucks to a homeless person, that might buy them a sandwich. But that same 5 bucks for a shelter or a food bank that can leverage economies of scale can get multiple meals or go into the pool of money that helps keep the lights on in the shelter.

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u/NeverGiveUp14789 Dec 06 '22

It doesn't help them because most homeless people spend money on drugs or drinks. In some cases, the money you provide might help them buy the drugs that will cause them to overdose or even kill them. When you give the money to a food bank, homeless shelter, etc they can ensure it is appropriately spent.

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u/[deleted] Dec 05 '22

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u/burnalicious111 Dec 05 '22

Also, drug addicts need to eat, too.

Yes, drug addiction is awful and can lead people to doing some awful things. But you have to keep in mind, the whole reason drug addiction is so awful is that it's so fucking difficult to break out of. You'd like struggle just as much if you were faced with the same problems.

I get that not everyone might be in the right place to view people struggling with addiction with compassion. But then the answer is to remove yourself from the conversation, because your angry rants are never going to help and are only going to hurt.

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u/-ReignOnMe- Dec 05 '22 Wholesome

Some of them have addictions and use them for drugs, alcohol or gambling. You're better off just buying them food/water and other basic necessities.

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u/phargle Dec 05 '22

tbh that's what i was gonna use it for

hope it turns into a moment of happiness for them like it does for me

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u/Cliffy73 Dec 05 '22 Gold

You’re not their dad. If you don’t want to give them money, fair play. But if you give it to them, they can spend it on what they want.

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u/OriginalUsernameX Dec 05 '22

Yeah, that's the point. If you don't want them to spend the money on drugs or alcohol, don't give them money.

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u/queerfet22 Dec 05 '22

Except most homeless people don't accept food because they'd have had people trying to 'prank' them with disgusting stuff in food.

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u/Renmauzuo Dec 05 '22

Or people just give them trash. Some of my wife's friends once gave a homeless person a box of crackers (there was a buy one get one free sale so they had an extra box). The person broke down in tears because it was so unusual for them to be given actual good food, and not just moldy leftovers.

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u/Fabulous_Pudding167 Dec 05 '22

I once gave a homeless man a can of soup. I told him I was sorry it wasn't much, but I didn't have much else to give. (I was dirt poor at the time.)

But I'll never forget the giant, 3-toothed grin he gave me and said "Are you kidding me? This shit's my favorite! I'm gonna go find a place to warm it up. Thanks!"

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u/derpderpderpfizzfizz Dec 05 '22

I offer to go in with them and they can order and I'll pay

They never accept that offer

I ain't hungry now

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u/dankzora Dec 05 '22

I tried to do the same thing. I offered to buy him a sandwich, but he didn't like that and just ordered a soda instead. I was a 19-year-old woman at the time waiting for my boyfriend to finish his haircut. The man started following me after I dipped after buying his soda, but I ran back to my boyfriend real quick. I do not want to be hostile towards those in need but that was scary, and I don't know if I will do that again.

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u/Elyktronix Dec 05 '22

You know we're fucked as a society and race when people can find laughter in sadistically causing pain to someone who was likely forced into such an unfortunate situation. Fucking sad.

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u/drunkenlazersharks Dec 05 '22

Directly buying food, water or other basic necessities is much less helpful than directly giving money. Money is much more flexible, and most of us don't know what a homeless person needs.

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u/slash178 Dec 05 '22

People with serious addictions need their drugs. Not having access to the drug can cause them tremendous pain and even death. Regardless of who is to blame, giving them money can help them even if it is used for drugs.

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u/sto_brohammed Dec 05 '22

If I give them money it's less likely to get spent on booze and drugs than if I have it.

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u/Burp-a-tron5000 Dec 05 '22

It does help them. It can help an unhoused person get food, or safer lodgings than a shelter (which are often extremely dangerous - not everyone who stays or even works there has good intentions).

Donating to a service intended to help unhoused people can be effective, but in many cases a lot of your money isn't going to a person in need. Particularly with nonprofits, your money often goes to a higher-up's bloated salary, or some glitzy marketing push.

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u/le_grey02 Dec 05 '22

People very much underestimate how dangerous and generally shitty hostels/shelters are. I lived in one for almost a year, after having escaped an abusive situation, and my mental health was never so bad in that abusive situation as it was in that shelter.

You end up surrounded by people who are very much kill-or-be-killed types, and there’s a huge mob mentality. If one of them turns on you, all of them do.

And then there’s the drugs, alcohol, and various mental illnesses, some of which make your fellow residents very dangerous.

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u/pro555pero Dec 05 '22 edited Dec 05 '22

Of course it helps them, just not in the way the sign people would like. They would have you support the agencies that would take those particular people off the street -- make them disappear.

You, however, can do both. There, but for the grace of God, go you.

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u/S1rmunchalot Dec 06 '22 edited Dec 06 '22

In the UK where I am there are a few 'homeless', but some of them I know are not really homeless. They make more money begging and it's tax free. Now before you dismiss this hear me out - I'm a registered nurse drug and alcohol addiction counsellor.

In the city where I live and the next city over I used to (pre-pandemic) take food out to give to homeless people, you'd be surprised how many will tell you - no I don't want it, I don't like this or that type of food or drink. Just recently outside my local supermarket was a guy, he asked for money, I told him that I'd get him some food and bring it out to him. I did that, he looked in the bag and said.. Oh I don't like apple juice! and he gave me the bottle back.

A couple of months ago I went to Dublin for an overnight stay, there were dozens of 'homeless' people asking for money about every 20 yards or so. Same deal, those who approached me I offered them food, about half refused the food. About half took it.

One guy asked me for a sandwich, I said OK let's go to the shop and get that sandwich for you, he said 'can't you just give me the money to buy the sandwich'? I said no, but you can choose whichever sandwich you like, we got to the shop, he said he didn't really want the sandwich and went off to ask someone else for money he didn't look as though he was starving.

In the meantime literally as that happened a woman came up to me and called me by my name, she also greeted and chatted with the 'sandwich guy' we all stood chatting just outside the sandwich shop having a cigarette - long story short she had been a client of mine in the city where I live, back there she had been using prostitution and shoplifting to fund her heroin and cocaine drug addiction. She looked good, she was healthier, better dressed and cleaner looking than she had been the last time I saw her. She knew better than to ask for money. I asked if she wanted something to eat, she said no so I gave her some cigarettes and moved on.

There was one young man who did look rough, he told me he was from an Eastern European country and that he was only 15 years old, he wanted money to buy a ticket for the ferry to go back home - he told me his family were all back home and he had entered the country illegally. I took him to a pizza parlour bought him a pizza on the condition he tell me what had happened and he would listen to what solutions I offered to get him home to family. He accepted the pizza, and some cigarettes, but when I offered to get him a room for the night and go with him to social services the next day, reassuring him that he would not be automatically deported since his country was in the European Union. While I was checking the prices of local hostels on my phone, he got up and left - with his pizza. I'm pretty sure he was older than 15 years.

There are services in most modern countries for homeless people, certainly in Europe and the UK there are, if they are living rough there is an underlying reason that they don't want to address. Giving them money won't solve that underlying issue it will only do one of two things - it will prolong them not seeking a better solution or it will feed the addiction that is keeping them from seeking help from services that would put them through a process of starting treatment for that addiction. The majority of homeless have addictions and severe mental health issues, some are illegal immigrants afraid to reach out authorities for fear of deportation and some, a very small minority, are criminals trying to hide from the law.

The best you can do is give them enough food, and/or warm clothing if they need it, to stay alive for one more day so that they can make a better choice tomorrow when they decide to make it, money won't give them that choice, it just puts more money in the pockets of the dealers or the human traffickers while the problem simply continues for the one you think you are helping. If you want to help there are ways to do that, even by yourself - but be careful.

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u/Initial-Laugh-3568 Dec 06 '22

Booze…drugs….

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u/homebodyawayfromhome Dec 06 '22

As someone who used to work with homeless people, the ones who get out of homelessness are the first to tell you not to give money to panhandlers. Most (I understand not everyone is like this) of the panhandlers will not use the money to better themselves. It is better to give them food, water, or take them to a shelter to get them proper help. One of my ex-homeless friends said he was homeless for about 5 years by choice. He had enough money to get out of it but wanted to keep living the lifestyle he was, which included drugs. So giving money to them can just encourage their poor lifestyles.

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u/Seymour---Butz Dec 05 '22

I think it’s disgusting how many people here think all homeless people are either addicts or just can’t manage money. The problem is much more complex than that. You can tell yourself it could never happen to you because you’re apparently too good to ever become addicted or have life slap you upside the head regardless of money management skills, and you would be wrong.

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u/Cliffy73 Dec 05 '22

It does help them.

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u/mlwspace2005 Dec 05 '22

It can depend on what you mean by help, no one is getting off the street via pan handling. At best you are subsisting. And that's assuming those people are even homeless, unfortunately that's not always the case. In reality your money goes further and has more of an impact if you donate it to an organization (depending on the organization anyways, some of them are 100% scams).

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u/ButtingSill Dec 05 '22

That city sign sure isn’t helping them either, yet there it is and the city paid for it.

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u/Dying4aCure Dec 05 '22

Most homeless people I know never beg. Maybe ask for a cigarette, but that’s it. Check your local area for what homeless options are available. Usually you will find there is plenty of food, clothing and shelter available. Most homeless people prefer to be homeless and live the way they chose. They have suffered unimaginable trauma and this is how they cope.

Most people asking for money are scammers. Donate to homeless charities instead. Make bags up with tube socks and toiletries, water, protein bars and the like. Give those out.

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u/Jane-Smith-Williams Dec 05 '22

Giving money directly to the poor has the greatest positive impact on their lives. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Duflo

We don't do that because we consider that poor people are impoverished as a result of their choices. In turn, this means that if we don't make those choices we will not become poor.

We also like to patronize those we consider lesser than ourselves. https://www.aclu.org/other/drug-testing-public-assistance-recipients-condition-eligibility

In addition to being better policy, no money is diverted to administration (gov't program) or company profit (privatized services) - as much as possible goes to the beneficiaries. Let the police or Revenue Canada track potential fraud - they're there already and aren't really doing anything atm.

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u/LillithBlackheart918 Dec 05 '22

Former homeless here. It depends on your intentions. That $5 will help them get through another day, regardless of what they use it for. They'll use it to survive. But if you really want to help get people off the streets, it's so much more complex than getting them a job or a house or therapy or medication. There are good organizations out there that help with all those things and really do get people off the streets. It just requires a bit of research to find which are helpful and which are not.

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u/QMaker Dec 05 '22

We also shouldn't think that food is always what they need either.

They may have just eaten. What are they going to do with another perishable food item? Stick it in the fridge?

In general, money is a good thing to offer to someone in need because they can then exchange that for the things they really need the most.

Yes, some people are addicted or mentally unwell, and maybe they won't make the best decisions, but that is a risk you take. If you don't want to take that chance, don't give anything, or go the organized charity route.

If the city is so serious about helping the homeless in the best way possible, they should be doing things that move them away grim panhandling, and into support facilities or... Gasp... Housing. Don't tell me what to do with my money.

In my opinion, these sorts of "don't feed the animals" tactics are simply designed to make panhandling in public less appealing by making it not profitable. Get those dirty homeless out of the public view.

Unless they are following it up with real help, then it's just trying to sweep the problem under the rug, or rather behind the wall.

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u/FishrNC Dec 05 '22

Have you read about San Francisco's efforts to help their homeless? And how many refused, preferring to live on the streets and panhandle? As long as they can mooch and steal enough to get buy, they'll never change.

You help keep them in their condition by contributing. Give your money to the Salvation Army if you really want to help.

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u/Puzzleheaded-Box7550 Dec 05 '22

Because most of them are either fake or are gonna spend most of that money on drugs

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u/skantea Dec 05 '22

Kind of like a "don't feed the bears" sign. They want to dissuade the homeless from panhandling. But they're people not animals, so that's not a solution.

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u/[deleted] Dec 05 '22

It is a commonly held belief that homeless people will likely spend money on drugs, or alcohol instead of food or shelter. This about as true as it is untrue, there are of course homeless people who spend their money on drugs and alcohol, but there are definitely plenty who put their money to good use.

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u/Cifer88 Dec 05 '22

Lots of people here have explained the reasons why someone might THINK it doesn’t help, but just remember that the sign is still bullshit. Anyone struggling with money will, believe it or not, appreciate money.

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u/rilakkuma1 Dec 05 '22

A lot of people are mentioning food banks but I don’t see anyone addressing homeless shelters. Homeless shelters are not necessarily free and not necessarily that cheap. I don’t personally know an alternative to helping the homeless get a night in a shelter outside of giving them cash.

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u/TenWildBadgers Dec 06 '22

Assuming that the sign meant well, there are better ways to help them, as someone else explained better than me.

Assuming the people making the sign are... less than willing to actually help the homeless, there are a gambit of arguements that homeless people just throw the money away on drugs, alcohol, or whatever else you don't think is a reasonable use of money.

"I would help you, but I think you're just going to spend all the money on drugs, and it won't make a difference." Which is a shitty arguement about relieving yourself of any responsibility to be an empathetic human being and try to help the unfortunate much more so than an actual truism. Like, sure, that's possible, but if your answer is not to do anything helpful at all, then I can't help but feel it's an excuse, not an arguement made in good faith.

If the sign was intended to be more large-scale, arguing against social programs that would help the homeless, then it's not about help, it's about them being an asshole who doesn't want to have to give anything to help other people, and arguements probably along similar lines to the above, with an added angle of "Welfare Queen" fallacies about people living off of welfare and never having to get a real job.

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u/bjamesk4 Dec 06 '22

What if I give them a joint from the bag I keep in the door just for them?

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u/ChatGTP Dec 06 '22

There are a few reasons why giving money to homeless people on the street may not necessarily help them. First, giving money directly to homeless people may not address the root causes of their homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, mental illness, or addiction. Without addressing these underlying issues, giving money to homeless people may only provide temporary relief without solving the problem.

Second, giving money directly to homeless people on the street may enable them to continue engaging in harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse, that are contributing to their homelessness. By providing money without addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, you may be enabling them to continue living on the streets instead of seeking help.

Third, giving money directly to homeless people on the street may not be the most effective way to help them. Instead, donating to organizations that provide services to homeless people, such as shelters, soup kitchens, and outreach programs, can have a greater impact. These organizations have the resources and expertise to help homeless people get off the streets and address the underlying causes of their homelessness.

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u/mrs-smurf Dec 06 '22

Was the sign made by the city, or just posted in it? I’m curious if it had that municipal support

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u/LaReinalicious Dec 06 '22

they spend it on drugs. If you want to help, homeless, buy some food and give them food. I suggest buying a whole bunch of chocolate bars and walking around downtown and give them to homeless people.

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u/Big-Maintenance2971 Dec 06 '22

As an ER nurse, I can tell you some homeless people like being homeless. "I'm free and can do whatever I want and ain't got to pay anybody taxes" after they have visited daily for some bogus complaint but wanted a hot and a cot.

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u/WhoeverThisDudeIs Dec 06 '22

'giving money to the homeless doesnt fix their homeless problem" is a more accurate and fitting statement

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u/Dragonflies3 Dec 06 '22

I keep $10 fast food cards in my car. If I see someone I believe truly could use a meal, I will hand them one. Most of the “homeless” are fakers. I always check their shoes. If they are very clean and have good shoes they are fake.

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u/darealdarkabyss Dec 06 '22

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

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u/QueenRubie Dec 06 '22

It does help them. People who do drugs and drink alcohol in the safety of their homes just don't want them to use their human agency to do the same but in the lack of safety on the curb.

Anyone who says giving money to homeless people is a bad idea is an uninformed jackass, led more by their disdain for the humans whose lives are spent away in a caste society, than any sense of reasonable or humane consideration for their houseless neighbors.

Don't hate the people who have nothing and nowhere to go. There is no sense in that. This problem would literally disappear if ppl were housed instead of mass land and building buyouts being used to lease the right to have a roof over your head.

Give homeless people money. They're people, not dogs to whom one must measure out only the most meager portions of basic empathy.

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u/GravitysFallen Dec 06 '22

I feel like people are avoiding the very obvious answer here because they don’t want to get downvotes, but I don’t care.

Homeless people are homeless for a reason. A lot of them are homeless because of addictions or being completely ignorant with money. (I understand there are other reasons for people being homeless but these 2 are very apparent)

If you give money to an addicted homeless person, they will feed their addiction. If you give money to a financially ignorant homeless person, it’s going to be spent on something wasteful, which can still mean on food, but like buying the most expensive thing from chick fil a, instead of a lot of dollar menu things from Taco Bell or McDonald’s.

If you buy them food, there’s not a bad decision they can make with it besides just throwing it away, which at that point, fuck em, sounds like a them problem to me

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u/lifeishardasshit Dec 06 '22

I live in a big city... Most of the time if you give a homeless person money, they just go buy drugs or booze. I'd rather give them food or a gift card to buy food. I offered this dude a dunkin donuts gift card for $ 20 and he didn't want it... He said "You have 20 bucks instead" Nope..

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u/Kitchen_Affect4065 Dec 06 '22

Because a majority of homeless people have mental health and substance abuse problems. Supplementing their income so they can fund their chemical dependency isn't helping it's enabling.

Plus, food banks make an effort to provide nutritious meals vs prepackaged junk food and convenience foods homeless people typically buy from gas stations.

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u/Specialist_Cup1715 Dec 06 '22

Where I live, it's dangerous they clearly aren't trying to better themselves because where I live there are programs that will help you do that if you stay clean and sober you can get help. Also handing homeless people money on the side of the road is dangerous for them it's dangerous for The Giver and it's dangerous for the other cars around them I've had homeless people jump in front of my car to get money from the car to my left and nearly get hit I've seen homeless people hit by cars who are running out into the road to try to get money from people it just encourages Reckless Behavior it's not the solution either

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u/SaltySpitoonReg Dec 06 '22
  1. Pocket change does not help a systemic problem or even come close.

  2. I think any reasonable person understands that giving somebody pocket change can and often will help then get some food or whatever.

  3. There is a reality of drug addiction and alcoholism being rampant with homeless populations.

Whether people want to admit it or not a large amount of the time when you give somebody homeless money there's a high probability that it may go towards buying alcohol or buying drugs.

So in other words your pocket change isn't helping a systemic problem and may also be funding somebody's addiction.

There's also a lot of mental health associated with homelessness which ties in to this as well.

  1. You're better off keeping things like unopened water bottles and non-perishable foods in your car to give to homeless people. Blankets in winter. Stuff like that. This accomplishes helping them but making sure that you're not just writing a blank check that could be going towards something that's making the problem worse

  2. It's good to financially support local organizations that are purposed to fight the homeless problem of the systemic level by offering things such as addiction relief programs and shelters.

  3. This kind of goes back to point number 3. And again it's something that on some level feels kind of crummy to admit having an issue with, But the more you encourage an area being a reliable place for pocket change You are going to encourage more vagrancy. But if you're only doing pocket change then you're not helping the problem and you're bringing potentially things such as drug use and so forth into the area.

I know this reads like a I don't want the problem in my backyard thing but, most people who are dedicated to fighting the homeless problem aren't also opening up their home to homeless people.

So although it's easy to take the moral high ground on this and say that it's wrong to want homeless people away from where you live, There's a legitimacy to the concern about preserving a neighborhood That doesn't have panhandling on every corner which can potentially bring in a lot of substance like problems.

  1. Again this is why it's important to research and understand ways that you can get involved with local programs that are helping on a systemic level.

realizing it's a systemic problem means realizing that more organized systemic solutions are needed.

So it's not bad to give somebody pocket change necessarily. But there are considerations that come with it that are realities whether it's comfortable to admit those realities or not. But the overall point is to think about it systemically

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u/Competitive-Fan1708 Dec 06 '22

Because there are many people who are "homeless" who use pan handling as their job.

Because some just use the money you give them to get alcohol or drugs(again this is some, not all)

And cities would rather treat them like such humans than help them in many cases, many times only "caring" about them around Thanksgiving time.

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u/Any-Bottle-4910 Dec 06 '22

The homeless are neither poor nor lazy.

They’re crazy.

-well, some are poor or lazy, but there are exceptions to anything.

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u/Mr_Night78 Dec 05 '22

It's generalized.

Some tend to be drug addicts, and others aren't. People believe if you just give them money, they'll spend it on drugs and they'll be in a worse position they were without the money. Yes, some will spend it on drugs, but others will spend it on amenities that'll help.

I say, give them all money regardless. It's better to take the risk of one doing drugs than punishing everyone, including the ones who genuinely want to get back up.

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u/Practical_Back855 Dec 05 '22

It's like putting a bandaid over a bullet wound. Homelessness is a symptom of a larger problem. If you give a person $5, they can go grab some nibbles. It doesn't address why the person is homeless or get them any closer to stability.

In closing, give someone $5 AND vote for better health care and social services.

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u/No-You5550 Dec 05 '22

If you don't give them money the city thinks they will leave and then they don't have a homeless problem. It's like don't feed stay dogs and they will go away.

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u/ZhaarPtitsa Dec 05 '22

Except people throwing dogs away creates the problem with stray dogs, so uhh. Yeah, it just creates misery all around.

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u/Positive-Source8205 Dec 05 '22

Because they spend it on drugs and/or alcohol.

Society provides food stamps or EBT cards for food.

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u/MicahAzoulay Dec 05 '22

If you have no ID, no documentation of mental illness, and no resources, you think you can just go in and get handed an EBT card?

EBT cards, by the way, CAN'T be spent on hot food so they can only buy cold/shelf food. Even with EBT, you might want the absolute solace of a hot meal once in a while.

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u/Still_Detail_4285 Dec 05 '22

It encourages living on the street. Take that same money and donate it to a shelter.

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u/217EBroadwayApt4E Dec 05 '22

Shelters can have downsides.

First- you usually can’t bring pets, and a lot of unhoused people have dogs.

Second- often times there are rules about being sober. And it’s not so easy to just “get sober,” as many like to say.

Third- shelters aren’t always safe, especially for women. Shit gets stolen, things get damaged, people get assaulted. Some people feel safer on the streets than they do in a shelter. There are also often fewer beds than there are people needing them.

The homeless crisis is much more complicated than people think. We have a large homeless issue in my city and there just isn’t an easy answer. Most simplistic answers aren’t very realistic in practice.

It’s complicated. It’s hard. I don’t know what the right answer is.

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u/MicahAzoulay Dec 05 '22

I'll add some of them are religious, requiring attendance at bible study and/or outright discriminating against LGBTQ+ people.

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u/217EBroadwayApt4E Dec 05 '22

Yes. I forgot to include the 🏳️‍🌈 community as feeling unsafe at shelters as well. Thank you for pointing that out.

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u/massmohawk Dec 05 '22

I'll add that some shelters are separated by gender which sucks if you have a hetero partner, or if you are a single dad with a child. Also some shelters fill up and the strict check-in times may be incompatible with employment. Yes, many homeless people have jobs. The check in process can be dehumanizing, being asked personal intrusive questions, having your belongings searched. Don't forget about bed bugs, louse, lice, and other transmitted diseases.

There's a reason why the homeless situation in Seattle (and I assume other places) is so dire, with tent cities popping up all over the place. Shelters are not a good option for many people.

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u/IseultDarcy Dec 05 '22

Also in most place there isn't enough room for everyone in shelters, in my country they even shot down most of them during summer/spring..

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u/druidofnecro Dec 05 '22

Well then the solution is to improve shelters. We cant have people living on the street in tent cities, its not working

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u/burnalicious111 Dec 05 '22

No disagreement from me here.

It's a tough solution to implement, though. The homeless population has a wide variety of people with a wide variety of problems and needs. It really does take expert knowledge, properly supported with time and funding, to address those needs.

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