Give… but don’t give… to help panhandlers. I think…

PERSONAL NOTE: I keep a few dollars in my cupholder to hand out to panhandlers at a red light. I “tip” panhandlers on the street better than I tip the waitstaff when I go out at night. And when I don’t hand out money, I try to smile and say hello. So all this below is my confused — and confusing – attempt to try to understand this “Know Before You Give” campaign. Geez, people!

Today there was a news story about the “Know Before You Give” campaign, which encourages people to give to social service agencies. Great idea! Please do give to social service agencies.

Need a beer sign

You ever hold a sign like this?

And if you feel like giving a few bucks to a panhandler on your way to drink beers with your friends, go ahead. Throw a few at the valet and the bartender, while you’re at it. Why not? Those guys could use a beer, too!

Wait. What I meant to say was, don’t give money to the panhandler, who probably has to sleep under I-35 (and who will probably just spend the money on beer).

The best way to help him is to give to a charity like Front Steps. Front Steps is a nonprofit that operates ARCH, the homeless shelter. The City of Austin provides the building and a grant to Front Steps to operate the shelter.

So if the city’s giving to Front Steps and you’re giving to Front Steps, these poor bar and club owners won’t have to worry about people outside their doors asking for money — and they can get more of your money inside!

Uh, and what I meant by that was that we should support local businesses and work together to keep downtown safe AND help the homeless. (Except that… well, studies have shown that most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.* Hmmm.)

Anyway! That’s why we’re asking you, Austin partiers and beer drinkers, to take more responsibility. Know Before You Give partners created this campaign, now it’s your turn: Stop feeding the cats! They’ll just keep coming back! If we stop feeding them, maybe they’ll just go away!

Let’s educate ourselves on the importance of not giving to panhandlers. (At the same time, just in case, feel free to brush up on your own panhandling skills.)

* “Contrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one and the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.”  (U.S. Dept of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services)
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One Response

  1. I have on several occasions bought the homeless a beer and will continue to do so. as well as just give them cash for what ever (prostitutes, drugs, porn, medicine, food, shelter, clothing, trade school classes… my role is to respond to the human being asking ME for help not to be the judge and jury of him I leave that part up to God)

    I will also continue to work on real solutions to root causes of these problems. That help these folks find shelter and income.

    I worked at Front Steps for 2 years. It’s a waste of Taxpayer money, public donations and a disgrace to the city. It’s a freaking warehouse.
    Please do NOT give anything to this place. To date it has solved absolutely nothing. All is does is help the homeless deal with/survive
    and prolong the state they are in.

    So do many of the over 7000 Austin non profits often fighting ,like subway rats for left over food, for donor dollars. There is zero reason or need for about 4000 of the to exist. So yes please give to anyone that ask you. especially the human being sleeping under the bridge he/she needs it more than frontsteps who will simply mis manage it and the homeless individual will sleep on the streets anyway.

    Yall are intelligent people with free will. use that instead of non profits who just want your money for their programs.

    Any organization or “solution to end homelessness” that does not give the poor a seat at the power table is fundamentally flawed and doomed to fail. There are a few great Austin non profits creating real solution support those if you rather give to an established organization but please steer clear of front steps and all like it.

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