Homeless people...are they scam artist or really need help.

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AfterBurners

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I lived in my area for many many years and over that time the amount of homeless people have increased substantially. It's a problem and it seems our cities turn a blind eye to. So much about this bothers me. There are Vietnam Vets who need help and I feel in my heart we should try to find a resolution. These individuals served our country and now have nothing. As far as donating funds I would like to do something like that as long as I knew it was going directly to the cause.

As far as giving money to someone hanging out on a corner, freeway off ramp or someone who approaches one self asking for a handout I'm completely against it! My reasoning is I look at these people as either dope addicts or scam artists who actually make a living doing this and put on a facade and play on people's emotions. What also bothers me is that people will play right into this and by doing so only encourages these people to continue to panhandle. I haven't contacted the my local police to gain information on what can be done and what rights these individuals have, but it doesn't seem to be enforced very well.

Yesterday after hitting Dollar Tree to get my Mom a birthday card I decided to stop in at this local food place to get some food. It was something like a Flame Broiler. Anyway I walked in and placed my order. There was no one else in the place but myself. 10-15 minutes pass in that time a few people and got their order before me and they may have called it in. I get it, but how long does it take to chop up some chicken and throw it over a bed of rice in a bowl?

So I got up and asked for my refund even though my order was on counter. The girl got some young manager in his 20's and I explained to him he can keep his chicken and to refund my money, which with an attitude. I told him I'll be contacting his boss as well. The place was a complete mess inside. No tables were wiped and the floors were disgusting. Even outside the store front there was trash, yet between the 4 people working there they couldn't manage to clean their place of business.

So I'm already pissed off and as I leave this punk who is covered with tattoos even on his face and looks like a wannabe gang banger approaches me for a hand out. I told him "Stay off my back and get a [edit] job... [deleted] I guess he didn't like that and we got into a verbal exchange as I was walking away. He wouldn't let up so I turned around and told if you have something say come over and say it. I guess being 6'5" and 275lbs no one is willing to dance with me, regardless I left pretty pissed and wanted [deleted] but I got in my truck and drove.

Was I out of line and could have said something else, probably so but I'm so sick and tired of these [edit] who all they want to do is suck off the system, because they are too lazy to get off their butts and get a job. I work for my money and I use my money to pay bills and live...these people are in the situation they are in because of the choices they made, not me. As far as I'm concern they can gather all of them up and isolate them out in the desert. We even have people camped along side river beds in tents. I mean at what point are you going to decide to do something with your [edit] life and expect everyone to support you[deleted].
 

Bat-mite

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Frustrating things happen to all of us everyday, but it seems like you have some anger management issues. Frustration comes from unmet expectations, and perhaps you have an expectation that the world will be a better place than it actually is.

Your post has nothing to do with the question of whether or not homeless people are scammers or not, by the way.
 

Bat-mite

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I have no desire to be on the giving or receiving end of anyone's anger. I can't see the good that comes from it.

I donate to a homeless shelter near me, and I donate to a Christian organization called Helping Up Mission, which mostly deals with men who are homeless due to drug and alcohol addiction. I do not give people money on the street because I don't know what they are going to do with it. I have offered to buy them food when convenient, and sometimes the "no thanks" is an indicator that they want the money for drugs and not food.

As for your anger, if that's what makes you happy, if you walk away from events like that feeling fulfilled, then go for it.
 

AfterBurners

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I have no desire to be on the giving or receiving end of anyone's anger. I can't see the good that comes from it.

I donate to a homeless shelter near me, and I donate to a Christian organization called Helping Up Mission, which mostly deals with men who are homeless due to drug and alcohol addiction. I do not give people money on the street because I don't know what they are going to do with it. I have offered to buy them food when convenient, and sometimes the "no thanks" is an indicator that they want the money for drugs and not food.

As for your anger, if that's what makes you happy, if you walk away from events like that feeling fulfilled, then go for it.
Its good know that you do help others as well as I through organizations designed to help these people.
 

KidRockET

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How do you feel about...

The homeless igniting...

Illegal fireworks at 2am...:cool:
 

Banzai88

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As a veteran in the largest fleet concentration area in the world, I can say definitively that if ANYONE asking for help has a sign that says 'Vet' or anything like that, you'd be doing more good calling the local VA than giving a few $$.

EVERY local VA has a program where a van/short bus retrieves homeless vets from wherever with just a phone call. They'll give them a place to clean up, get fed, get medical care (at least a once over talk to make sure that they're not in a place where they'll hurt themselves or others), and get them any services they're entitled to.

I've been pursued through the Wal Mart parking lot by people that 'just need a little gas money' etc. Some have been trying to get enough gas money to go home to wherever for at least a decade.

We have roving family groups that have all the same sign (obviously nicely stenciled), clean designer clothes, fine manicures, long nails, well groomed and stylish hair, etc. Neighbor is a cop, and he says definitively that most of the seasonal beggars are scammers.

That said, many MANY of the folks living in the tent cities are more down on their luck by life's lottery than what seems to be your vision of looser slackers.

Seriously, spend some time in some church or other community outreach to homeless communities........it sure as H#$* wasn't what I thought it was.
 

dr wogz

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Have you ever thought that this is the life these people chose? for whatever reason, this is what they want to do, to live of the gird, no worries, not thoughts, no cares? (and not be found?)
Have you ever thought these people have had it sooo bad in their lives, this is the only thing they know? And the thought of the change, "our way of life" scares the b-jeezus out of them?
Have you ever thought that our beloved society did this to them in the first place? with budget cuts, program funding cuts, social assistance cuts, etc.. that they eventually fell thru the cracks?
Have you ever had an addiction, one that is physical as well as mental? That you need a daily 'fix'? That has crippled you in a way that thinking straight is really really hard?
 

boatgeek

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Just looking at the question in the title and trying to answer seriously... Seattle has a pretty serious homeless problem, and the city just did a survey of about 1,000 of them to find out why they came, where they came from, etc. (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3480319-City-of-Seattle-Homeless-Needs-Assessment-March.html) There's a stereotype that homeless people come to Seattle for free stuff and relaxed law enforcement and are drug-addled drunks. However, 85% had been here for at least a year, and "only" 50% have been homeless that long. 70% or so came here for a job or because of friends/family. 45% report not using drugs, and 29% report using alcohol. There's a fair amount of other drug use, and it's pretty clear that many people are using more than one.

So what does it all mean? Seattle's a pretty expensive place to live, and I can see how a lot of reasonably upstanding people who are close to the edge could end up homeless after losing a job or having a health crisis of some kind. I'd guess that 50%-70% of the homeless people are in that category and in the "really need help" group. I don't have the same warm feelings toward the 10% that said they came to the area for legal pot.

If you want to help, there are legit charities (homeless shelters, people who give supplies or set up housing, etc.) in most places. There's a huge need here for socks in the rainy winter months, but maybe not so much in SoCal. We give to the local food bank, which both helps feed homeless people and people on the margins who aren't homeless. I would not give to panhandlers.
 

Cl(VII)

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You know what, never mind. Not worth it...
 
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Peartree

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For what it's worth, I come into contact with homeless people on a fairly regular basis and and I have friends who minister to that population of people pretty much daily. The answer to your question "Are they scam artists or really need help?" is "Yes." There are some, for the most part a pretty small minority who are "gaming the system" but the majority really do need help. Quite a few "move through" homelessness and move on to a more stable life but many are trapped there for a variety of reasons. A frightening percentage are there because of mental illness of one sort or another and they are very hard to help. Almost all types of residential treatment facilities have been closed so there simply is no "place" where they can receive the kind of care that they really need. Despite their illnesses, most of them are fiercely independent and don't want to feel move in with their adult children, relatives, or accept long-term charity. While some of us struggle to see the difference between begging and accepting the charity of their own family, for them the differences are important.

It's also important to remember that something like 2 out of 3 households in the United States are only two paychecks from homelessness so it doesn't always take a lot the completely shift someone's life onto an entirely different track. I've met folks who suddenly became homeless because of domestic abuse, house fires, divorce, the death of a spouse/significant other, and abandonment. In many of these cases they found themselves with no belongings, no identification, no money, no transportation, no vital medications, nothing. Some of them are eligible for VA benefits or welfare but in order to collect those benefits you have to have a permanent mailing address, which is the one thing that homeless people obviously *don't* have.

It really is heartbreaking.

This is real.

Many are disabled, but a great many of them work, often as day laborers, some at regular jobs, even in semi-skilled fields like concrete and various construction trades. Many are singles, but there are also a whole lot of families with school age children.

I've met several people who were daily making this sort of choice:

Imagine:
It costs $45 per day for a cheap motel because you don't have enough money to pay for a month, or even a week at a time.
You work, but only make minimum wage (at best) so after taxes you get about $60 per day.
You can get some benefits if you can prove your identity, but through one circumstance or another (again, house fire, etc.) you don't have any.
You can go to the courthouse, get a copy of your birth certificate, and use that to get a new driver's licence.
But the courthouse want $65 to make you a copy and the BMV wants another $50.
Add to that the cost of the bus to courthouse, and basically lose a day's wages while you wait in line.

So, do you get your ID, sleep under the stars or under a bridge, skip eating for two days, and risk losing your job, or do you go to work and spend all your money on food and a place to sleep?

These are the choices that many homeless people have to make every day. I've met them, sat with them, and shared stories with them over coffee.

To prevent abuse, and those who are really good at "gaming the system," our church limits how much aid we can give one person and so our guidelines allow me to offer them a meal at a local restaurant, or a tank of gas, or a box of food (enough for a week or two), or one night's lodging. I've had many people tell me to my face, "I'll take the room for the night. I can stand being hungry, but I really need a place to sleep tonight."

I've also met people who needed a place to stay even though they told me that they had family (even parents) who lived in the same neighborhood as the motel where we put them up. I can only imagine what sort of emotional, drug, alcohol, or psychological problems led to them not being welcome in their own parent's home but it happens more often than you think.

So are there scammers? Sure.

Are most of them scammers? No, I don't think so.

Do they really need help? Yes.

But what they really need is for all of us to be more vocal to our elected representatives at all levels to create systems that don't trap people at the bottom, systems that make access to aid programs, many of which the homeless qualify for, easier, and to make access to basic identifying documents (like birth certificates) more affordable and accessible to people who are literally choosing between getting an ID and eating.

By all means, if you are unsure, then don't give money to panhandlers. The people next to the freeway are often, but not always, the people gaming the system. Unless you work with them, it's hard to know who's who. But there is a significant population of people who really need help.

If you want to be a part of the solution, I encourage you to volunteer at a food pantry, or a clothes closet, or any one of many church and civic organizations that work with the needy and the homeless. If you make it a regular thing (and not just show up once), you will meet them, and begin to build relationships with them. It takes time. They've been burnt by the government, by charities, and lots of people who want to use them for their own purposes. They've been taken advantage of so many times that they are very slow to trust but if you take the time to really get to know them, and they learn that you are there because you really care about them, they might just share their story with you.

And it'll probably break your heart.
 

ActingLikeAKid

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For what it's worth, I come into contact with homeless people on a fairly regular basis and and I have friends who minister to that population of people pretty much daily. The answer to your question "Are they scam artists or really need help?" is "Yes."
...
This was beautiful and painful, spoken with subtlety and compassion. Thank you for the work that you do and for taking the time to talk about it.
 

tomsteve

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6'5" 275 aint gonna stop a scammer with a gun[deleted]

with the closing of mental hospitals across the country, many of the patients were tossed onto the streets. theres a lot of mental instability on the streets. it would be wise to be a little kinder.
 

Crash-n-Burn

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Well said, Peartree. I have done some volunteer work at a transitional home for at-risk citizens (read: victims of domestic violence and/or coping with mental health challenges). The goal is to equip these people with the life skills so that they can re-enter society. Many of the residents have been homeless prior to connecting with this non-profit organization. I've heard their stories of living on the streets, being victimized and left scared and seemingly without options. The two biggest challenges of this transitional home are capacity and awareness - how do you reach a homeless person to inform them of the options that exist to them?

There absolutely are people that game the system. Last year I saw someone panhandling for change with a brand new iPhone in his pocket. I think we fail as a society when we presume those that take advantage comprise the whole. They are, in fact, the minority of those in need.
 

cerving

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Our church hosts a homeless shelter every year around the new year, and I've helped out on and off for several years. I can tell you categorically that about 99% of these people are on hard times and are gracious for the fact that there are people out there who care enough to help them out. I can also tell you that none of these people are standing on freeway offramps with signs... they want to get on with their lives. Afterburner, the next time that somebody approaches you for money, try this: Tell them you won't give them any money, but you'll buy them a meal. When they say "yes", get them a burger or something. In all the times I've done this, I've had exactly one person turn me down. The rest of the time, you can take comfort in knowing that but for the grace of God that might be you.
 

TangoJuliet

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I went through a rough spell in my life about 19 years ago and found myself jobless, homeless, and vehicle-less. Fortunately only 2 out of those 3 at any given time during about a 5 month period. I NEVER asked or went looking for any handouts. I had too much pride. Not having a college degree or trade skill, it took several years of low income jobs and cheap rent, roach infested apartments, beater cars, and allowing another man to legally adopt my kids so the state of Missouri would stop garnishing 50% of the income I was making, to finally get back on more comfortable ground.

Even now that I know how easy it can be to find oneself in that kind of situation, I still don't have much sympathy for pan-handlers or beggars. I find it indecent and lacking in self-pride on their part.

I won't berate you for going off on the guy, but I won't condone it either. Sometimes we all get pushed a little too far, and some of us explode to the point of wanting to hit something. I get it. We both know that violence doesn't help a situation like that. But we also have to know that some won't leave it at a verbal berating or fist-to-cuffs beat down. Nowadays, you have to be afraid of the one who would just as soon kill you as spit on you, so it's best to just walk away and go to a gym or kickboxing class to relieve your frustrations.

There are charities that you can volunteer for or make a donation to for those that truly need help and want it.

As a veteran I say that most would rather have a hand up over a hand out.
 

djkingsley

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As to whether they are all scammers, I don't know. But there is a rather infamous local case about 20 years ago in Annapolis where this guy claimed to be a homeless vet who stood every day rain/shine/snow in the intersection near the mall. People felt sorry for him and he collected from the majority of the cars after a couple years people started to wonder why he was still panhandling, people contacted the VA, the city mayor, the state representatives etc to try and help him out. It turns out he was very well todo (old family money) had a paid off house on the water and wife/partner. He was never in the military. When things went south for him they determined he was pulling several thousand dollars a month with big up swings in the summer beach season. They ended up charging him with tax evasion and the military got involved but I don't think they charged him with anything.

So yes there are cheats, since then I have stopped handing cash out the window and offer to take them to the homeless shelter and donate to the shelter when I can.
 

Peartree

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Okay folks, this thread had some pretty wild stuff going on and it got pulled. It did, however, have some pretty good conversation that I thought was worth saving so I pulled it out of storage and took a shot at editing it. I hope it still makes sense and I apologize to those whose posts were deleted simply because they referred back to posts that had already been deleted and just didn't make sense by themselves.

Let's all play nice, be civil to one another, and refrain from name calling and threats of violence.
 

TALON

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1st the pan handlers: I like Banzai88 solution to Homeless Vets. However I have seen scammers! One morning I went into a convenance store to get coffee. I was approached by a late 20s early 30s man, and he explains how his car broke down & needed money. I can't remember his exact story, but he was convincing! I didn't have cash on me, but during lunch I got some cash and went back to the convenance store, but he was gone. A few weeks later at the same store, the same guy walks up to me with the same story!!!! I told him he was full of $h1¥! He became aggressive to the point, that I had to grip my 40 cal. in my pocket and he got the idea!
Now about your attitude, that is old school, in the old days attitude showed that you were not a shepple. I am polite 1st, but if that does not get the desired result, ......well don't get me started, cause I have no brakes! But when someone hustles, provides just above average service, I will praise that person, especially if they are young, and tell the manager!
 

Zeus-cat

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I will see some panhandlers tomorrow as I will be heading into Dayton, OH to do some volunteer work. I ALWAYS see people with signs begging for money at the highway on and off ramps. I do this volunteer work about every two weeks and its is odd that I rarely see the same people begging, so I would guess many of them are legitimate. However, I never give money to them, but I do see others doing it. I do give to local charities like the Salvation Army and food banks.

One reason I never give them money is that many of them are smoking while they are begging. If you can afford cigarettes you don't need money for food.

That said, I would never get verbally abusive with someone who approached me for money. You never know if they really are needy, or if they are scamming you. If you really chew them out and they are really down on their luck you just made their day that much worse.

Blessings to you Peartree; you are doing good.
 

MikeyDSlagle

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I have been from one edge of this country to the other, East to West and North to South, working. I have seen homeless living in cardboard boxes on the streets of New York and groups of homeless ganged up at one off ramp in Los Angeles. That particular grassy knoll turned into a sleeping bag city around sundown.

Had a couple corner me at a rest area in Oklahoma (I think it was) asking for gas money because they lost all their money in a casino!
Had a guy approach me at a gas pump asking if I could spare some gas money so he and his daughter who was asleep in the car could get home. Never saw the little girl but he seemed convincing.
Had a guy approach me outside a restaurant asking for a buck so he could ride the bus. He had two guys with him and they were wearing good jeans, jackets, shoes, hats. No thanks.
Was approached by a group of guys offering to wash my windshield for a few bucks at a pretty shady convenience store in South Carolina at around 2 AM. We traveled with several trucks so there were a few of us and more than one had firearms in our trucks. That was a tense gas stop.

I haven't really traveled in 10 years so I don't know how the situation is now, but I know I have seen homeless or needy all over the country.

I see "veterans" all the time on street corners. There are programs in place to help veterans. Help them get jobs and medical. I work for a DoD contractor and one of my previous jobs I lost because I wasn't a veteran.

It's a sad situation when there are people who truly need help but we can't tell if the rag tag man begging for a buck is a hustler or not. I will not give money. I will buy someone a meal. Or a pack of lunch meat and a loaf of bread. Or buy them a blanket. Those who need help will usually accept. The scammers want the money.

Bad situation.
 

Igotnothing

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I just learned last night that for $500 or $1000 bucks you can go down to your local high school and endow a scholarship for disadvantaged kids. You know - the ones who have had a bunch of bad decisions made for them by feckless parents, but who could make better decisions for themselves.
 

Johnly

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I had a huge learning experience working at something similar to a soup kitchen in Portland for several years. Nothing like having a homeless paranoid schizophrenic whip your college educated ass playing Scrabble to reset your reference point. Donating your time and money to relief services avoids giving them cash that will be more likely be misspent on the same materials that facilitated their current situation. Are there scammers in the masses? Sure there are and they are often really convincing. I've had the same person hit me up for a phony bus fare cash situation several times and don't feel bad about letting them know I'm on to them. On the other hand, if they say they are hungry and accept my offer to buy them a burger at the place across the street, if I'm being scammed or not I don't mind offering them a bite to eat.

John
 

OverTheTop

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Some are fair-dinkum, some are scams.

There are some that will happily accept my offer to buy them a meal, and others who will just swear at me because I won't donate cash. It can be quite a good little cash earner for people with good acting ability.

There are a lot of people with mental health issues on the street, or just plain unlucky with circumstances. I guess without getting to know them better you really don't know. Difficult to judge a book by the cover.
 

cwbullet

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I recently had a fellow ask me for money for food for his family. When I offered to buy some groceries, he started making excuses. He was definitely scamming.
 

ActingLikeAKid

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Without getting into the authenticity (or lack thereof) of those asking for money, I noticed something weirdly specific in Canada:
Multiple times, people approached me with incredibly specific justifications - not "I need 5 bucks for gas/food/medicine", but "I need $2.37 for the 8pm bus to Kitchener".

Weird.
 

new2hpr

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No way to tell for sure who's scamming. A local news crew did a story around here (Boulder), where they secretly watched some fairly grubby looking 20-somethings spend the day panhandling on street corners, etc. with serious down-on-their-luck stories. Then at the end of the day, they followed them walking around the block, where they hopped into their nice BMW (probably recently purchased by mommy and daddy) to head back to their condo. A lot of trust-fund babies around here who get it all paid for by the folks, but need a little extra to fund their habits. I've heard that legal weed is much more expensive than getting it the old way!
 

AfterBurners

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Have you ever thought that this is the life these people chose? for whatever reason, this is what they want to do, to live of the gird, no worries, not thoughts, no cares? (and not be found?)
Have you ever thought these people have had it sooo bad in their lives, this is the only thing they know? And the thought of the change, "our way of life" scares the b-jeezus out of them?
Have you ever thought that our beloved society did this to them in the first place? with budget cuts, program funding cuts, social assistance cuts, etc.. that they eventually fell thru the cracks?
Have you ever had an addiction, one that is physical as well as mental? That you need a daily 'fix'? That has crippled you in a way that thinking straight is really really hard?
Some of it is true but not all of it. Some might be willing to work, but not all of them.

Bottom line is they are responsible for the situation they are in because they made poor choices in life and no I don't feel sorry for them at all!

As far as their drug addition they should have dealt with it a long time ago. Get a life!
 
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