How Should I Help a Panhandler?

See excerpts from Detroit’s Panhandling  Ordinance

Be sure to take steps to report “aggressive panhandling”.  There may be mental health issues involved. Local law enforcement working along with other helping organizations may be able to get the person get the help that they need.

Not all  people who “panhandle” are the same

Not all people who panhandle are homeless

Many people equate “panhandling” or begging with homelessness.  While this may sometimes be the case, the fact is that some individuals who panhandle are housed, but may need the extra money to remain housed.

Not all people who panhandle are substance abusers

There are, of course, those who panhandle to support illegal habits.  These same individuals may also be using  a portion of what they receive from panhandling to purchase food or pay for shelter.

Not all people who panhandle are mentally ill

Individuals who are  Chronically Homeless  have a physical or mental disability adding to their crisis, sometimes due to sustained long term homelessness.

Not all people who panhandle are lazy or uneducated

Individuals of all stripes can find themselves in a temporary financial crisis.

Not all panhandlers are any one thing…

So, when you consider whether or not to support a person who is  panhandling decide based on the individual, not the stereotype.

The best way to help a person who is panhandling

Because we at Thrive Detroit know that selling the street newspaper or participating in one of our other micro-enterprise opportunities is a much more rewarding and sustainable effort than panhandling we wish that we could reach everyone who panhandles and convince them to make the switch from begging to business.

We want to see everyone take advantage of the opportunity to go from dependence to self-sufficiency and if you’re reading this we believe that you do as well.  We realize however, that not everyone who panhandles or is un-housed is ready to participate in an enterprise.

You can help us to help those who panhandle but would much rather have a product to sell.  Here’s how:

Print or pick up a few of our chance for change cards and give them to those who you see panhandling.   You decide whether or not to give money with the card.  We believe that over time, with your help, the only visible panhandlers will be those who choose to do so for some reason.

Chance for Change Cards are available at D:hive, Avalon International Breads,  Louies Deli, Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, and Source Booksellers.

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