Author Topic: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?  (Read 44254 times)

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Larrabee

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #60 on: November 30, 2011, 05:21:32 PM »
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

artk2002

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2011, 09:04:05 PM »
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I'd buy that, except that my original example of Santa Monica is a tourist city.  It's right on the Pacific coast and gets a lot of tourists visiting SoCal.

Some of it has to do with politics in Santa Monica. If you listen to Harry Shearer's Le Show, he refers to it as "The Home of the Homeless." Not sure what the politics are like in Battleboro.

(By the way, if you liked "This is Spinal Tap," listen to Harry's show -- he was the bass player.)
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Fleur-de-Lis

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #62 on: December 05, 2011, 12:10:38 PM »
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I don't doubt the *motivation* is there - but how do you solve the problem? Some members of these groups often categorically *do not want* to trade their freedom for "three hots and a cot" in a shelter - even if there were enough shelters to house them. 

Some of them have drug issues/psychoses/PTSD, which makes group living challenging for them.

Who pays for the shelters, the infrastructure - the laundry, the food, the water bill, etc?  Where does the City build these shelters?

The "working agreement" in San Francisco seems to be that the police start requiring the indigents to get up and move along at about 8am, and if you wait until about 6 to head to the train station, there aren't as many indigents about; the working and tourist population has diminished enough that there is no revenue stream. 
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Larrabee

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #63 on: December 05, 2011, 01:30:30 PM »
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I don't doubt the *motivation* is there - but how do you solve the problem? Some members of these groups often categorically *do not want* to trade their freedom for "three hots and a cot" in a shelter - even if there were enough shelters to house them. 

Some of them have drug issues/psychoses/PTSD, which makes group living challenging for them.

Who pays for the shelters, the infrastructure - the laundry, the food, the water bill, etc?  Where does the City build these shelters?

The "working agreement" in San Francisco seems to be that the police start requiring the indigents to get up and move along at about 8am, and if you wait until about 6 to head to the train station, there aren't as many indigents about; the working and tourist population has diminished enough that there is no revenue stream.

Well, in my city which has had a big drive to help rough sleepers off the streets in the last 10-15 years, lack of motivation by the homeless people hasn't been an issue at all, the weather is truly miserable here though.  ;)

We have several very good homelessness charities over here, the biggest being Shelter which I support and which does great work helping people out of awful situations, not just rough sleepers but the 'vulnerably housed' too.

Homeless people can apply to sell 'The Big Issue' a magazine about social issues, the arts etc. which is a source of income and also allows them to access various services if they follow the code of conduct. 

I live in one of the biggest cities in the country, that has some of the poorest most deprived populations but I never feel threatened or annoyed by homeless people as I walk around, whatever the time is, so something's going right!

Cami

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #64 on: January 24, 2012, 09:10:05 PM »
I have worked with agencies who deal with panhandlers. They target you based in large part on whether or not you respond to them, including with eye contact. You are FAR more likely to be verbally harassed, followed and accosted if you make eye contact or verbally engage with them.

Drawberry

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #65 on: March 09, 2012, 12:07:22 AM »
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.


greencat

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #66 on: March 09, 2012, 05:42:18 AM »
I prefer to LOUDLY announce that I'm not carrying cash when I'm asked for a handout, just in case. 

On the other hand, when I DO happen to be carrying a small amount of cash, I will sometimes randomly give it to the homeless guys that I see all the time that DON'T ever ask me for it.  This happens maybe once every 6 months at the most, so it's not something they expect me to do.

Firecat

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #67 on: March 13, 2012, 03:12:24 PM »
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.

I disagree. I'm glad that you've had some great experiences. I've had the experience - more than once - of being called names and otherwise harrassed by panhandlers, and I'm not interested in risking it. I'm going to err on the side of my own safety, and I don't think that makes me rude or mean. 

And "I don't know if they're unstable" is not a rude assumption, it is a statement of fact - because I genuinely don't know if any given stranger may be unstable. You might have more of an argument if you had stated that it would be rude to assume that any given person is unstable - which it would be.

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #68 on: March 13, 2012, 04:31:00 PM »
There is usually a reason why a person is panhandling, not working.  The homeless population has a higher percentage of visibly mentally challenged people in than the general population, so it isn't "mean" to be careful, it's just common sense and experience.

That said, I judge each person on their own merits.  I take public transportation and see lots of homeless people, both on the bus and living at the bus stops.  It's only prudent not to want to sit so close that they touch me.  Their clothes are filthy from living on the street and their skin has diseases which I don't want to catch.  Sometimes keeping your distance is the best preventive measure available.  However, a homeless person who bathes regularly and isn't speaking to their invisible friends won't catch my attention, so I won't even identify them as "homeless."

When it comes to "dangerous," I always trust my gut.  I've been on dates (back in the Jurasic Era when I was last single) with guys in suits who were scary dangerous.
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AngelBarchild

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #69 on: March 15, 2012, 05:11:36 AM »
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.

You said everything I wanted to say only better. :)

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #70 on: April 14, 2012, 08:56:41 PM »
I don't respond to panhandlers either. But then again, I don't make eye contact with or respond to those people selling stuff at kiosks in the hallways of the mall.  A request for my money is not a social situation. If a panhandler sneezes, I'll say "bless you", but I won't typically give them any money. I've been known to let out bloodcurdling screams when surprised by people walking up to my vehicle as I'm strapping the kids into their carseats. That's a startle reflex, I don't just scream when people walk near me. But if I turn around and there is suddenly, and unexpectedly, a person in my personal space, it freaks me out. Especially since I'm a 5'3" woman who is usually the only adult with 2-4 children under age 3.

DH is a sucker for a story, especially if there's a child and a picture involved. At a nearby big box store, there is a family that occasionally walks around asking for money to help pay for a child's cancer treatment. They seem pretty knowledgeable and will talk about the tests and procedures that are taking place, and they always thank you for your time. DH gives them what he can, whem he can and comes away feeling grateful that our family is healthy. I think it's kind of hinkey because they also usually have a photo of the child, and will tell you a bit about the sick child, but I've seen several pictures of different children. Boys, girls, curly hair, dark hair, blonde, freckles, no freckles, etc.

I've also had the unsettling experience of being boxed in and yelled at by someone asking for money. I was backing out of a parking lot and he positioned himself in such a way that I could not continue without running him down. Again, it was just me, my 3yo and my infant daughter. He yelled at me, and when I told him I don't carry cash with me, he demanded that I go into the store and get some for him, all the while he was calling me all sorts of nasty names and telling me that I was making him feel so bad and ashamed, and didn't I know how embarrassing and demeaning it was for him to have to ask for money. I had to call 411 to get the store phone number, call a manager and blare the radio (drowning out the obscenities before my little sponge in the backseat could soak them up) while I waited for store personnel to come rescue me.

OTOH, I've also had a grown men weep when I turned my car around to stop and give him a sandwich, powerade and banana. And I had a warm, fuzzy moment when I was able to give a woman with a bunch of little kids about a dozen pouches of tuna and some random groceries I had in the car. The kids' eyes lit up, and it broke my heart a little.
(I find that being inside a locked vehicle, with DH for company makes me more willing to talk to/help those who ask)
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Twik

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #71 on: April 16, 2012, 10:07:49 AM »
Unfortunately, when dealing with the homeless, you have three basic groups.

1, those truly "down on their luck." These people I have no problem with helping.

2. people suffering from mental illness/drug addiction. While not necessarily dangerous, they can be erratic and confrontational. And yes, sometimes dangerous. Interacting with them (even with the best of intentions) can lead to situations you are not prepared for.

3. the scammers who see money being given to people upon asking, and decide to benefit themselves from other people's charity. These people are disgusting, but they are often good at disguising themselves as Group 1.

The only advice I have is go with your gut. Bystanders who feel a passerby is being uncharitable rather than cautious should put up their own cash if they feel it's called for.
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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #72 on: April 26, 2012, 10:56:02 AM »
I agree with your three types of panhandlers.  First, when I'm approached with a hard luck story--such as not having money for gas--I offer to call the police or adult social services for assistance.  The individual asking for a handout makes an excuse and walks away.  Their avoidance of police or social services speaks volumes.  I also use the line that I do not carry cash.  Second, I refuse to give cash, but will give items that immediately address a person in need's problem.  For example, I have given a sweatshirt to a homeless man that was obviously cold.  I also have given a sandwich to someone who looked emaciated.  I also offer to make calls to agencies in every instance.  Overall, I think that unsolicited approaches are for genuine help or to support dysfunctional behavior.  All polite request from any human being calls for a polite response.  All rude requests do not have to be acknowleged. 

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #73 on: April 29, 2012, 07:42:31 PM »
I've never given a panhandler a cent, although I will occasionally buy a homeless newspaper from one. I always make eye contact and will just shake my head or tell them I'm sorry. I don't see how refusing to acknowledge the existence of a human being can be considered anything but rude. Imagine you were in their place (yeah, yeah, yeah it would never happen to you, right) and people refused to even acknowledge your existence.

I've had just the opposite experience with acknowledging them. If you look at them (confidently) and say "sorry" (confidently) they seem to back off quicker, you've made it clear they don't scare you, you're not going to be a victim, and you aren't going to give them anything.

To me this thread looks like people trying to justify their behavior. I've volunteered extensively with the homeless and they're not the malicious subhumans it seems some of you are trying to make them into. Many are mentally ill, some physically ill, others are addicts or drunks, but I think they all deserve to be treated like human beings.


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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #74 on: April 29, 2012, 08:18:20 PM »
I've never given a panhandler a cent, although I will occasionally buy a homeless newspaper from one. I always make eye contact and will just shake my head or tell them I'm sorry. I don't see how refusing to acknowledge the existence of a human being can be considered anything but rude. Imagine you were in their place (yeah, yeah, yeah it would never happen to you, right) and people refused to even acknowledge your existence.

I've had just the opposite experience with acknowledging them. If you look at them (confidently) and say "sorry" (confidently) they seem to back off quicker, you've made it clear they don't scare you, you're not going to be a victim, and you aren't going to give them anything.

To me this thread looks like people trying to justify their behavior. I've volunteered extensively with the homeless and they're not the malicious subhumans it seems some of you are trying to make them into. Many are mentally ill, some physically ill, others are addicts or drunks, but I think they all deserve to be treated like human beings.

I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.
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