Author Topic: Do you give directly to the homeless?  (Read 11867 times)

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2182
  • Age: 25
Do you give directly to the homeless?
« on: August 25, 2015, 09:28:54 AM »
I'm working on a site in a city. A woman wheeling a bike comes up to me asking for money to buy food and water from Walgreens (this is right across the street from me). I tell her I don't have any money right now, but my lunch is right next to where I'm sitting. I offer her a fresh apple and bag of goldfish. She proceeds to instantly decline and walks away. Wat? You just asked for $ to buy food and water and I just offered you food, without you having to go buy it.

I've always denied random people asking for money. I get the feeling that they wouldn't actually use it for food, but maybe for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, who knows? What's the right thing to do?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2015, 09:30:20 AM »
No, I don't, after the guy with Tennessee plates in Massachusetts I gave $10 for to gas kept driving his minivan around in a circuit in the gas station stopping at every car leaving his engine running.

Food banks are a much more effective target for your dollars.

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2015, 09:37:25 AM »
I worked downtown in a court house next to where the jury bus would pull up everyday for almost three years. I have seen so many different "homeless" people that were just con-men that I would never give directly to someone.

There was the guy who would push his wheel chair up to the corner every morning and then sit in it and beg. There was the guy who threatened to "break (my) cracker skull open" when I politely declined giving him money. There was the guy who held up a sign for months that read "help me bury my son". My co-worker used to offer them breakfast each morning but most of them would refuse food, they only wanted money.

People who are legitimately homeless tend to be mentally ill, on drugs, etc... The rest are just scummy pieces of crap.

Gone Fishing

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2754
  • So Close went fishing on April 1, 2016
    • Journal
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2015, 09:37:36 AM »
Like you, I'll offer some of my lunch/snacks.  I've never been turned down though.  We have a great shelter/foodbank in town so I usually direct them there.  I did have one guy scoff when I mentioned it.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2015, 09:41:23 AM »
Food yes, money no.

Sometimes if we eat out downtown (very very rare) I will offer my leftovers. I assume people who actually take them, and then dig in, really do need the help.

We have some services when the weather is very cold, but otherwise there isn't a ton of help for these people here.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2182
  • Age: 25
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2015, 09:42:13 AM »
I worked downtown in a court house next to where the jury bus would pull up everyday for almost three years. I have seen so many different "homeless" people that were just con-men that I would never give directly to someone.

There was the guy who would push his wheel chair up to the corner every morning and then sit in it and beg. There was the guy who threatened to "break (my) cracker skull open" when I politely declined giving him money. There was the guy who held up a sign for months that read "help me bury my son". My co-worker used to offer them breakfast each morning but most of them would refuse food, they only wanted money.

People who are legitimately homeless tend to be mentally ill, on drugs, etc... The rest are just scummy pieces of crap.

Right as I was responding to this, a guy in an electric wheelchair came cruising up to me asking for spare change. No! When I shook my head he zoomed off before I could offer my food again.

You'd think they would find a better use of their time with a job that guarantees money. Maybe asking for money is more profitable? Idk
« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 09:44:25 AM by Cwadda »

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2015, 09:55:35 AM »
Asking for money is very profitable for them. Never again after a guy asked me for $2.00 in 'gas money' and then I saw him go to the liquor store.  Nope, they're not getting my money.  I will however donate to shelters, etc.  I figure they get discounts, have the resources to better help the people who really do need it.

Also, we all pay taxes to support people as well through housing assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc.


Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2182
  • Age: 25
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2015, 10:38:29 AM »
Looks like the majority is no to money and yes to food. I'll bring a bunch of bananas or box of granola bars to the city next time I'm there.

Kaikou

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: United States
  • Kermit is like a box of chocolates
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2015, 10:48:55 AM »
I'm working on a site in a city. A woman wheeling a bike comes up to me asking for money to buy food and water from Walgreens (this is right across the street from me). I tell her I don't have any money right now, but my lunch is right next to where I'm sitting. I offer her a fresh apple and bag of goldfish. She proceeds to instantly decline and walks away. Wat? You just asked for $ to buy food and water and I just offered you food, without you having to go buy it.

I've always denied random people asking for money. I get the feeling that they wouldn't actually use it for food, but maybe for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, who knows? What's the right thing to do?

Happened to me after class. Had subway, was told no I want pizza hut

shotgunwilly

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 547
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2015, 02:21:52 PM »
I'm working on a site in a city. A woman wheeling a bike comes up to me asking for money to buy food and water from Walgreens (this is right across the street from me). I tell her I don't have any money right now, but my lunch is right next to where I'm sitting. I offer her a fresh apple and bag of goldfish. She proceeds to instantly decline and walks away. Wat? You just asked for $ to buy food and water and I just offered you food, without you having to go buy it.

I've always denied random people asking for money. I get the feeling that they wouldn't actually use it for food, but maybe for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, who knows? What's the right thing to do?

Happened to me after class. Had subway, was told no I want pizza hut

I wish we could drop these people somewhere they would actually starve.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2015, 02:35:25 PM »


Happened to me after class. Had subway, was told no I want pizza hut

I bought a guy a sandwich at Which Which once (and cut in half what I would have gotten to be able to do it on my budget). Even asked him what he wanted.  I gave it to him and he said "you only got me the small".

Um, I only got ME the small.  Ungrateful jerk.  He got taken off my "give food to" list and got added at my "glare at" list.

TrMama

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3087
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2015, 02:41:25 PM »
Only once in my life. While biking home one day I came across a woman crying on the side of the road next to a park and ride lot. It was nearly dark, about to rain, and she was skinny and scantily clad. I asked her if she was OK and if I could call someone for her. She declined. I offered to call an ambulance or the police. She declined emphatically and said someone had dropped her off and would be back to get her. She looked like something terrible had just happened to her. I gave her $5 and pointed out where the nearest bus stop was.

I suspect she was a drug addicted prostitute and at least part of my $5 went towards drugs. However, I couldn't leave her on the side of the road like that and if I'm ever in a bind I hope someone will stop for me.

snarkstache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2015, 02:42:46 PM »
Looks like the majority is no to money and yes to food. I'll bring a bunch of bananas or box of granola bars to the city next time I'm there.
If you're buying stuff especially to give out, I've heard another item that is quite desirable is clean, warm socks.

hops

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
  • Location: United States
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2015, 02:57:48 PM »
Another vote for food, not money. When the weather's not extreme, we keep provisions in the car specifically for this purpose. Quite a few of the beggars who regularly approach us are addicts (and familiar to my partner, whose ER they wind up in) and we don't want to give them money that would probably be spent on drugs.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1264
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2015, 03:11:44 PM »
I only give food, and it is usually rejected. <Shrug>

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2015, 03:26:08 PM »
I used to work in Washington DC.  Each day I would see the same panhandlers at the top of the Metro escalators.  Anyway, one day I went to get a soda during the day and I had $2.00 with me (no purse).  My change after buying the soda was .10 cents. 

I decided to give it to one of the 'homeless' people.  When I handed him the .10 cents (which was all I had with me), he scoffed and said in a snotty tone, 'Oh boy.... ten cents'.  That was the LAST time I gave someone money.

Screw you.

mandy_2002

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2015, 04:07:22 PM »
I was in Spain when I was 16 for a High School immersion trip.  While we were out in Granada, a woman asked for change and I gave here what amounts to a quarter in Pesetas (before the Euro).  She didn't scoff, but kept begging.  About 20 minutes later, I saw her walking around with a group of women going to a discoteca.  That was a very cheap lesson for me that I'm glad I learned early in life.  I've never given directly to a person since.

Lski'stash

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 520
  • Age: 32
  • Location: West Michigan
    • A Teacher's Journey to FI in the Mitten State
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2015, 04:27:34 PM »
My city used to ban pan-handling. That was changed about a year ago. Now there is a guy at every corner of the main street I live by with a 'sob story' poster. There have been several conversations on the news and on the radio about it since. It seems that many choose the way of life because its easier and makes more than a minimum-wage job. The pan-handlers by this street work in shifts, and have spots and times 'claimed.' 

Now, I'm not saying this is everyone, but I'm not about to give money to the people on that street. Donate to a food bank or a homeless shelter.

BrickByBrick

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 120
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2015, 04:45:20 PM »
I used to give some money, until I realized that all of the homeless in the immediate area I had given too had medical bands on them - because of their very frequent ER trips after overdosing on drugs.

One of the most humorous encounters was with a man at a gas station, walking around with an empty gas can asking for "cash" so he could get enough fuel to get home.  When he came up to me, I asked him which car was his.  After some hesitation he pointed to a nearby black Ford Mustang (Really?).  We then watched as someone else got into the car and quickly drove away.  I called out after the guy saying his car was being stolen, but he was already making his getaway.

I occasionally keep some snack bags in my car that I've handed out, or I've given out $5 gift cards to McDonald's or something (dollar menu could provide multiple meals I figured).

I'm not sure I will continue the gift cards though...plenty of better places to donate.


Jakejake

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 720
  • FIRE: June 17, 2016
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2015, 06:39:41 PM »
I've bought or given food for people, haven't given money because I don't know who is scamming me. And I've donated to food banks.  I will say though that I won't judge someone who is given money and goes to a liquor store. There are a lot of us middle class and above folks who take it for granted we can get medical care when we need it, surgery when we need it, and prescription pain meds when we need them. People who have fallen out of the system sometimes have chronic pain (or even short term pain like pulling their back), and booze is their pain med because it's available. I understand it's not the best, but I don't feel like I can stand in judgment over that.

sser

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 30
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2015, 07:27:23 PM »
if I'm ever in a bind I hope someone will stop for me.

Tend to feel the same way and this has definitely dinged me a few times (though I can't say for sure if they didn't really need it, I guess). Either way, I generally try to avoid those situations or hurriedly mumble "Sorry! I don't really have any..." if not. Agree with another poster that a lot of the truly homeless seem to be struggling with a mental illness, which is tough and I hope that mental health recognition and support get more attention in general.

Have not often given food, though I was heading to the metro with a date after dinner once when we were approached by a guy trying to sell a rose for something. We declined, and then the guy just kind of took my leftovers...
« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 07:34:49 PM by sser »

vagon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2015, 07:32:48 PM »
There's a guy in downtown Sydney who (about 3 years ago) made $50,000 a year begging. This got reported in some reputable media outlets.
When you consider thats tax-free, he's doing very nicely for himself.

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4210
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2015, 07:53:14 PM »
Yes, when I happen to have an appropriate denomination of cash on hand. Last week I gave the change from gassing up to a guy who looked pretty ragged. He hugged me.

I'd feel more uncomfortable offering to buy food for someone. It seems to needlessly hammer home a power balance that's already very skewed in my favour. It just doesn't fuss me if whoever uses the money to buy alcohol or drugs.   

dpfromva

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2015, 08:15:47 PM »
I was accosted by a woman near public transportation. The longer I listened to her, and the less I reacted, the more elaborate and embroidered her story got, about catching up with her tour group, running out of medication, etc., etc. She was a brilliant con, kept up the patter to try to keep me from thinking about how illogical her story was, made up an answer to every question, tried to fish for information about me so she could establish a false connection between us. I let her go on and on, and I finally gave her some money. I said, this is for your street performance, I hope you can straighten yourself out, you would be a fabulous salesperson. She probably spent it on booze, oh well. Too bad, she really had mad skills. This was an exception, I normally just give to the charities of my choice. After the 2008 recession, beggars started popping up on median strips on rush hour commuting routes in my area. They've never left. It's sad. I think a lot of people are just one medical problem or one car breakdown away from disaster.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11060
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2015, 09:14:57 PM »
Food yes, money no. One day I gave a guy a bag of pretzels. A week or so later I saw him again and gave him half of my subway sandwich. He looked at me and thanked me for the pretzels. Said he went to a fast food place and got some mustard to put on the pretzels and it was really good. Man, I didn't know what to feel. It's not somewhere I go very often and I haven't seen him since, but it really was a moment.

FLA

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2015, 11:06:47 PM »
if the person presents as highly likely an underserved mentally ill person, but really, how would I ever know?  If I walk by someone like that I do occasionally and only occasionally give 5 bucks and tell him some places he might be able to get some help.  On my route to work, there was always this skinny old man in the same exact shirt and pants for months on end. Sometimes I'd give him an extra lunch I had made, sometimes a few bucks, an old rotting drunk is what he looked like.  Then winter came, he was still there is that  same outfit, snow falling on him.  I turned around, found clothes my husband didn't wear and this warm puffy parka I had bought my husband for $10 yrs and yrs before at H+M. After I left him, I called the town police, I was afraid for him being out in the elements, he was no where near a shelter, could they check on him?  They said yes and he was never there again.  In my head, he's sober, doing a day job, sleeping at the shelter at night, receiving mental health and medical care.  In actuality, he probably died in a snowbank.  Don't want to know. 

As an aside, my ex-husband was so furious that I gave away something that was not mine to give, rant, rant, rant.  Kids are in kitchen hearing all this but have no idea what we were talking about, except my son said, "why did you take Daddy's coat?"  I told him Daddy has many warm coats, some people have none, they need help from other people and that's where daddy's coat went.  He got that sort of.  Under my breath I said to my ex, "your turn, dickhead" and walked away. 

who does that over a $10 coat when he drives by this same exact human being twice a day, just like me?  That stuck in my head a good long time

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4210
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2015, 11:55:16 PM »
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/poll-do-you-give-to-homeless-people-on-the-street-thoughts/
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/do-you-ever-give-money-to-panhandlers/

So, I just finished reading the two quoted threads, in addition to this one. The steady theme in both is: no, because of drugs/alcohol. Real-life conversations often bring up the same reasoning. I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11060
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2015, 01:21:27 AM »
I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Short answer - I want to feel that my hard-earned dollars will help someone in a positive way, not enable them.

Money for food/clothing/shelter = helping/useful. Money spent on booze/smokes/drugs = enabling/wasted.

As a mustachian, I strive for maximum value for every dollar spent. I also try to achieve maximum value for every dollar that I give away.

FLA

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2015, 07:44:59 AM »
My feeling is if I choose to give someone a small amount of money, once it leaves my hand, it is theirs to do with what they want.  If the person needs to buy a Colt because he is an alcoholic and DTs are not fun, I am choosing with full knowledge that this will likely happen. To me, most people are homeless because of mental illness, addiction or dual diagnosis, then impoverished people whose life turned out really shitty, including families.

If we are not going to address the homeless situation with any meaningful action, as in a warm bed, a physical to figure out if the above are problems and then try to make inroads.  A lot of psych patients end up inpatient, get short term help, do well on meds, they are discharged back to the streets, meds run out and they are right back where they started. My feelings are the same for dual diagnosis and addicts. I believe addiction to be a disease.   Do I like seeing drug addicts sleeping outside and stealing to get drug money?  Of course not.  But our system lacks the resources to help all these people. 

So take my $5, none of my business what you do with it.  If I had hundreds of dollars, they money would be donated to the shelter

jda1984

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2015, 08:44:28 AM »
Agree with most of the posters here.  I do want to add two bits of information:

1.  Junk food is rarely rejected.  We keep a box of sweet granola bars or similar in the car for this purpose.  I haven't had it rejected.  Sure it's not healthy, but if you truly are hungry, you just need something in your belly.

2.  Food shelves can participate in programs that really stretch the dollar.  I know of one in our area that can basically get food items for 10 cents on the dollar.  I will donate to them rather than the setup at the grocery store (here one change has a program where you can buy donations prepackaged; there may be some discount on the contents, but it's not clear.  I doubt it's 90% off).

The_path_less_taken

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2015, 08:47:00 AM »
I've done both. Prefer giving food. Prefer giving clothing over money, but also agree that once given...it's their choice what they do with it.

Always give pet food, because the dog on a rope had no choice to be in that situation.

There are some people---and I'm sure some are scam artists---who seem legit to me and them I give a bit more to. The 70+ year old woman in a wheelchair who had no legs, and was shaking with the cold....take this $30 and get a hotel today please.

I've given a down sleeping bag to a woman who I knew was legit homeless. And jackets.

Truly, I think just having someone acknowledge their humanity, smile at them, and saying "hang in there, this is all I have but I'm thinking good thoughts for you" is worth more than any item given. They're the 'invisible people', a modern day version of the caste system Untouchables.

But they were once somebody's brand new baby, and hopefully....loved.

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 871
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2015, 09:45:53 AM »
My feeling is if I choose to give someone a small amount of money, once it leaves my hand, it is theirs to do with what they want.  If the person needs to buy a Colt because he is an alcoholic and DTs are not fun, I am choosing with full knowledge that this will likely happen. To me, most people are homeless because of mental illness, addiction or dual diagnosis, then impoverished people whose life turned out really shitty, including families.

If we are not going to address the homeless situation with any meaningful action, as in a warm bed, a physical to figure out if the above are problems and then try to make inroads.  A lot of psych patients end up inpatient, get short term help, do well on meds, they are discharged back to the streets, meds run out and they are right back where they started. My feelings are the same for dual diagnosis and addicts. I believe addiction to be a disease.   Do I like seeing drug addicts sleeping outside and stealing to get drug money?  Of course not.  But our system lacks the resources to help all these people. 

So take my $5, none of my business what you do with it.  If I had hundreds of dollars, they money would be donated to the shelter

All of this. I give money if I have it. And I give it to them with the full knowledge that they will do what they want to with the money. It's their money now, they know best how to spend it. I only wish our mental heath system were better able to help them. I also give money to https://www.givedirectly.org/

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
  • Location: Germany
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2015, 11:40:36 AM »
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/poll-do-you-give-to-homeless-people-on-the-street-thoughts/
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/do-you-ever-give-money-to-panhandlers/

So, I just finished reading the two quoted threads, in addition to this one. The steady theme in both is: no, because of drugs/alcohol. Real-life conversations often bring up the same reasoning. I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Because I don't want to enable addictions. As a sidenote: a GB health study tracking people over decades found that most times, alcoholism precedes a triade of unemployment, divorce and homelessness. Yet, when you ask the homeless the common story is: mean boss fired me, mean wife left me and threw me out on the street and I drink to make it all bearable!

Not saying this is true in all the cases or that anybody should be left starving or freezing. But I just don't like to enable addiction and denial.

FLA

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #34 on: August 26, 2015, 03:21:46 PM »
Truly, I think just having someone acknowledge their humanity, smile at them, and saying "hang in there, this is all I have but I'm thinking good thoughts for you" is worth more than any item given. They're the 'invisible people', a modern day version of the caste system Untouchables.

But they were once somebody's brand new baby, and hopefully....loved.

this got to me, especially having once been someone's baby.  And they are invisible, how many times do we and others walk by, eyes straight ahead? 

In nursing school, I did a rotation at a large homeless shelter for male vets. There was one nurse, not even a NP with prescribing privileges, for the huge number of sick visitors.  She was the right combo of caring and "I've heard this all before, don't F with me."  She accomplished a ton, unofficial counseling, substance abuse support, addressing wounds the homeless tend to get, checking for lice, scabies and assessing the effects of chronic mental/medical illness.  All with a rotating doc she got orders from at a clinic, who was so overburdened there, he just trusted her judgment and gave orders. This shelter had the most resources I've ever seen.  Getting people cleaned up, off substances, on necessary meds, limited job training, help finding a place to work and if you proved yourself over a certain period of time, you got a very small but clean and free apt for a year! Messed up too many times?  Apt gone.  Throughout the year, a social worker helped with job problems, mental health issues, and ultimately helped to find permanent low income housing.  I have never seen or heard of a place that good again.  Takes more money, takes more effort, takes specially trained staff but I would guess if programs like this were more common, the homeless population would be much smaller.  And which is perhaps cheaper?  Programs like this one, that holistically help in a more dignified, more compassionate and more effective way?  Or ignoring the problem and treating it only when it becomes acute and the person is once again in the ER or jail, or is a victim of a crime, rinse, lather, rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat. 

snuggler

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #35 on: August 26, 2015, 06:36:10 PM »

All of this. I give money if I have it. And I give it to them with the full knowledge that they will do what they want to with the money. It's their money now, they know best how to spend it. I only wish our mental heath system were better able to help them. I also give money to https://www.givedirectly.org/

Cool website. Thanks for sharing!

mschaus

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 151
  • Location: Chicago
    • blog
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2015, 09:41:44 AM »
I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Short answer - I want to feel that my hard-earned dollars will help someone in a positive way, not enable them.

Money for food/clothing/shelter = helping/useful. Money spent on booze/smokes/drugs = enabling/wasted.

As a mustachian, I strive for maximum value for every dollar spent. I also try to achieve maximum value for every dollar that I give away.

I definitely appreciate the logic here, but these people are far-and-away plagued with mental problems and addictions -- they are in survival mode. For someone addicted to alcohol, they need it just as much as food to survive and stay out of worse trouble. (If one of you is a doctor and knows that I misunderstand this, please let me know)

Our handouts can help them survive the day, but ultimately the medical help and social programs to fix the root of the problem are what is required. I donate regularly to the local food depository, but I don't know what the long-term solution would be.

honeybbq

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1250
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2015, 09:47:17 AM »
I work down town in a large city right next to a rehab/methadone clinic.

I get hit up about 3x a day.

I will sometimes offer food. Never money. Ever. And usually I don't respond or say hi back or anything when they try to engage me.

irishbear99

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2015, 09:59:55 AM »
I don't give cash, not because I'm worried about it going towards drugs/alcohol, but because I got scammed once and once was all it took. I do remember one time going into a McDonald's on an extremely cold day and buying a coffee for a guy sitting outside asking for money. He was grateful and it felt good to be able to do something to help relieve his immediate suffering a bit. But in general, I give to trusted food banks/shelters so I know I'm not being scammed.

Once I was asked for money by a guy in the process of rolling a joint. I got a big kick out of that one.

Taran Wanderer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #39 on: August 28, 2015, 02:53:52 AM »
No.

1.  Fast food joint, in college.  Guy behind me in line asks for food, says he is hungry. I offer to buy him something. I tack it on to my order, and I pay for it. As soon as I turn around, the guys cancels his part of the order, gets a 32 oz. soda, pockets the other $2, and walks out.

2.  Spokane, after college.  I am heading for a campground to spend the night as I head from Montana to Seattle.  I stop by the ATM to withdraw nearly thr last cash in my checking account.  Homeless guy asks for money.  I tell him no, I am $15,000 in debt (student loans) and just took my last cash out of the bank. Instead, I offer him any of the extra food I have. Flat refusal.

3.  Chicago, late at night.  It has been a fun night at the bars, and we are stumbling back to the hotel.  Girl has some sob story about missing the last train and she needs cab fare of $20. She is very thankful.  As we walk away, we hear her approaching the next guys about missing the last train...

I don't give money to beggars anymore.

Gray Matter

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3642
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #40 on: August 28, 2015, 06:51:21 AM »
The more I read about the complexity of and issues surrounding homelessness the more I am confused and unsure of the right thing to do, so I just do what seems ok in the moment. I do try to look and interact and not ignore, just for mindful reasons like, hello fellow human.

Yes, this.  Addiction and mental illness are complex things, and I'm not comfortable thinking I know how someone else ought to be handling theirs.  I do sometimes give money, because I feel like it helps me stay more compassionate/human (self-serving, yes).  And I don't really mind if they go buy cigarettes or drugs or alcohol, if that's what they "need" most in the moment.  I also contribute to services that can provide long-term help and support for those that are ready for it.

One thing that does bother me is the lying.  Though I totally get why they do it, it just seems degrading for them to feel like they have to be spinning stories all the time, that their real story isn't deserving of compassion.  But, not having been in their shoes, maybe it's not like that.  Maybe it's just a "job" or is about privacy or whatever.  Once in awhile someone is refreshingly honest ("Can you spare some money?  I could really use a drink!") and I appreciate that.

So yeah, I don't really know what I "ought" to be doing, I just do what feels like it leaves both of us with some dignity.

music lover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 653
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #41 on: August 28, 2015, 07:45:14 AM »
I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Because it's my money and I can do whatever I want with it. Homeless consumption of alcohol is just one thing on a very, very long list of things that I choose not to support.

I feel no need to explain or justify my choice.

Ramblin' Ma'am

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
  • Location: Boston area
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2015, 08:19:47 AM »
No, I don't give money. I  make a monthly donation to the local food bank, instead.

I've offered food to homeless people and been turned down.

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4210
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2015, 09:44:50 AM »
Thanks for answering, everyone. It's always nice to gain traction on other viewpoints. I give special credit to the folks mentioned homeless beggars being people who still deserve acknowledgement as human beings.

For me, it comes down my own personal experiences. I'm on this forum, so I've obviously had a lot of success in my life. Like everyone I've also had shitty times. My brain chemistry is not well equipped for shitty times, and I've used alcohol and narcotics to reduce my anxiety for a day or a moment. So far these kicks have been self limiting. I don't actually like being drunk, but I find being high pretty satisfying. I'm not willing to do anything illegal to get narcotics, but I sure as shit don't turn them down when prescribed. When I see beggars on the street I think I've had days like that mixed with some guilty there but for the grace of God, and I give them a few bucks. I also philosophize that once people are on the streets, the addiction is probably deeply entrenched and removal will cause withdrawal. My five bucks isn't enabling an ongoing addiction, it's keeping the DT's or heroin withdrawal at bay.   

That's my personally philosophy. Your take on the situation might just be saner and more hopeful than mine. No justifications requested, or necessary.
 

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4210
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2015, 09:55:54 AM »
Because it's my money and I can do whatever I want with it. Homeless consumption of alcohol is just one thing on a very, very long list of things that I choose not to support.

I feel no need to explain or justify my choice.

Hey Music Lover, sure. Apologies if my post implied I wanted justification. Not my intention at all.

nawhite

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
  • Location: An RV somewhere in the West
    • The Reckless Choice
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2015, 09:59:52 AM »
No, I don't give money. I  make a monthly donation to the local food bank, instead.

I've offered food to homeless people and been turned down.

Same story here. We keep a box of protein meal replacement bars (think power bars but bigger) in the car (I get them free from work, if you want a few boxes, pm me and I can have them shipped to you) to give out and they get taken about 75% of the time and refused 25% of the time.

We do keep track of every homeless person we pass throughout the year though. At the end of the day, we put a hash mark on a whiteboard we have with a running tally. At the end of the year or when they run a matching gift program, we donate $1 for every mark on the board. Usually comes to around $100.

Money Mouse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
  • Location: IL
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #46 on: August 28, 2015, 10:34:42 AM »
I don't, but it's because I hardly ever have any actual cash on me.  Our small city does have a homeless shelter and several food panties accessible by walking or bus, so I don't feel *too* bad if can't/don't give them any money - there are resources that can help.  My small city is home to one of the state mental hospitals so we have a surprising number of homeless for a city of only 120k people, many get released and have no place to go, so they hang around the downtown and immediate neighborhoods.  I do give to the food pantry and the homeless shelter around the holidays, it's actually a line item in my YNAB!

DH will give to anyone that asks him for money, no questions asked. Long before DH and I met, DH actually *was* homeless for about 6 months when he was in between jobs in his 20's. DH also told me a story about when he worked for a finger-lickin'-good fast food fried chicken chain. At the end of the night, they had to toss any already un-purchased cooked food out into the dumpster. They generally just carried the trays full food and dumped them right in. One night after closing the store, DH noticed that some homeless guys were dumpster diving for the food, apparently they'd wait for it to get tossed then go in after it once the employee went back inside the store (remember, this is just un-wrapped food thrown directly into a dirty dumpster).

DH asked his boss if they could just give the food to the homeless guys at the end of the night. Boss said "no". (In fairness, this could have been due to liability reasons, or just not wanting to attract even more homeless people to the store late at night which can cause problems of its own, the boss wasn't necessarily just being a jerk). So whenever DH could get away with it, he'd box up the food as if it were being given to a paying customer, and he carefully placed it all on top of the dumpster, so the guys could at least get clean food. DH figured anyone willing to dig their dinner out of a dumpster probably legit needed the food.

Another story I like to tell when this subject comes up is this one. Many years ago, a friend of mine badly hurt her leg and had it in an enormous brace, and walked with crutches (it was like this for months on end). She was in college and lived at school in downtown Chicago during the week in the dorms, and took the train home on the weekends to her mom's house out in the far suburbs. The commuter rail in Chicago all goes in/out of Union Station, where there are a semi-permanent collection of homeless people who call the station home base.

One Monday morning, she was getting off the train and making her way through the station along with the rest of the huge morning rush of train commuters, when she tripped and fell flat on her face - crutches, purse, and book bags flying everywhere. All the other commuters just kept right on walking around her, totally ignoring her. A couple of homeless guys where nearby and saw her fall, and came over. At first she was afraid they were going to take her dropped bags and take off. But they picked her up, dusted her off, asked if she was ok, and gathered up her crutches and things.  She thanked them profusely and headed off to school, as she still had a ways to go and she didn't move too fast on the crutches, and didn't want to be late for her morning classes.

The following Friday, she was back at the station heading home for the weekend, and saw the same group of homeless guys. She went into the McD's at the station and bought several super-sized value meals and walked over to them. She thanked them again for helping her and gave them the food, for which they were quite thankful.  She loves telling this story (and I love sharing it) because it was the well-off commuters where the ones to ignore a young lady clearly in need of some help, and t was the homeless "bums" who stepped up and did the right thing.  Those homeless guys were likely homeless for all the reasons stated in this thread, addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, etc. They were still more decent than the "upstanding" citizens were that day.

Gray Matter

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3642
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #47 on: August 28, 2015, 11:40:14 AM »
Because it's my money and I can do whatever I want with it. Homeless consumption of alcohol is just one thing on a very, very long list of things that I choose not to support.

I feel no need to explain or justify my choice.

Hey Music Lover, sure. Apologies if my post implied I wanted justification. Not my intention at all.

Hey Sam - For what it's worth, that wasn't how I read your comment at all--I read it as your seeking understanding/dialogue, not accusing anyone of anything or demanding an explanation or justification.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14170
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #48 on: August 28, 2015, 11:56:14 AM »
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/poll-do-you-give-to-homeless-people-on-the-street-thoughts/
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/do-you-ever-give-money-to-panhandlers/

So, I just finished reading the two quoted threads, in addition to this one. The steady theme in both is: no, because of drugs/alcohol. Real-life conversations often bring up the same reasoning. I'm left legitimately wondering why people feel so strongly that their donation should not go to alcohol. It's just not something that offends or worries me, and I'd sincerely like to discuss the philosophy behind people's reasoning.

Drugs/alcohol use actively hurts the homeless person in this situation.  I also wouldn't give a razor blade to a depressed person.  It seems irresponsible to do so.

Jakejake

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 720
  • FIRE: June 17, 2016
Re: Do you give directly to the homeless?
« Reply #49 on: August 29, 2015, 08:14:39 AM »
She loves telling this story (and I love sharing it) because it was the well-off commuters where the ones to ignore a young lady clearly in need of some help, and t was the homeless "bums" who stepped up and did the right thing.  Those homeless guys were likely homeless for all the reasons stated in this thread, addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, etc. They were still more decent than the "upstanding" citizens were that day.
It's pretty common for "upstanding citizens" to be complete jerks. When my daughter was a senior in high school, she decided the prom wasn't her thing - huge amounts of money spent on a couple of hours with the same people she already saw 8 hours a day for the last 4 years. So stupid. We made a deal with her - for less than what she would have spent on a dress, we paid her share for a trip for her and her gf to go to chicago for a weekend and stay with the gf's relatives for free.

Anyway, the two girls saw a homeless guy asking people around for help, prefacing it with "I don't need money, just help ..." and everyone was walking right past him. They stopped, it turned out he was trying to see his sick brother in the hospital across town, and just needed help with a map, figuring out how to take a bus across town. He wasn't looking for bus fare even, just "I need to see my brother in the hospital, help me figure out how to get there."

So they didn't know Chicago at all, but they looked at the map with him, and as soon as two decently dressed young women were looking at a map, within a minute, other people stopped to help THEM, even though they hadn't asked.   I mentioned in a wedding thread that my daughter had paid a homeless friend to help with serving at her wedding - I think the first trip there was a major event in her life in understanding how invisible homeless people are, and it really changed her mindset.