Panhandling Thoughts

Posted by Alissa Hauser on Dec 29, 2014
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I just saw this wonderful reflection on the challenge of how to interact with "panhandlers" (defined as people who ask for money in public spaces.) I have my own set of experiments in how I engage with people on the street- and i thought this article (see below) did a good job summarizing key ideas.

One thing that I've resolved in the past year is that the question of whether to give cash or not (what if they spend it on alcohol or drugs is the prevailing fear i've heard)., The more I take the time to talk to and learn from people who are panhandling, I've realized that by giving cash (when I have it/when I can), I am giving the person the choice of how they want to spend that money. By making the choice myself and just purchasing what I assume they might need, I have taken away their power to decide what is best for them in that moment. Who am I to make these decisions? In an ideal world, I try to spend time learning about the person and what they need- if they are in front of a store where I am shopping, I often ask if there is anything they need in the store and then purchase it for them while I'm shopping.

My experiences with this are exclusively US based- when I've been in other countries where poverty is more extreme and widespread than in the US, these ideas were not on my radar at the time. I frankly have no idea how I'd manage the challenge outside of the US.

Here's the article: 3 Ways to Responibly and Compassionately Respond to Panhandling

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Comments (1)

  • Geoff Nedry wrote ...

    I have been spending more time with the homeless lately. This is excellent advice and I loved the article. Thanks for sharing!