Jump to content

Homeless and poor everywhere


ToddF
 Share

Recommended Posts

Just returned from a 4 month/ 7500 mile adventure. Encountering homeless and beggars everywhere, even Deming New Mexico (Walmart)! In Las Vegas, one gentlemen rode on his scooter with dog on front "step" up and down the lanes in between the cars stopped at an intersection. Here in the Twin Cities, they bring their children! (I've seen mothers with 2 or 3 out in the summer sun).

Suggestion to self for next trip (and anyone else interested in helping), carry "resource sheets" with contact information For Salvation Army and United Way in the vehicle and hand out to those asking for help. I also look up the local branch of the Salvation Army online and make a donation. I do not give cash to these folks. ( I have a Minneapolis resource sheet with all the services and contact info listed and I give it out when I encounter these folks in the city. There are usually at the freeway exit as I make a stop to turn.)

Veterans get tax free benefits and or taxable pensions. The feds have subsidized Sec 8 housing vouchers. Every town has a food shelf. Churches all try to help. Parents in this income bracket pay no income tax and get the earned income tax credit if they have wages. The Salvation Army in Phoenix has a day center where they can go to take a shower, make phone calls, get a cup of coffee etc. 

The feds give out Social Security Disability to anyone with a bad back. 

Encountering these folks not only on the street corners, but in public libraries, casinos, bus stations, on the buses. 

Happy to get home, we don't have this problem in my town of 60,000. It is possible here to get subsidized housing, free health care (much better than what I have), many food shelves, cash assistance, tax refunds if you work a little . I've lived in New York City area, and grew up with what we called "pan handlers" encountered on the street corners and subway stops. My pastor used to always reach into his pocket and give them change. Here in Burnsville, MN, I've never once encountered one in 20 years of living here.

I know "its tough out there" but I am doubtful many of these folks aren't just lazy and taking advantage of the kindness of strangers. Thanks for listening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Talked to a 20's something panhandler the other day at a traffic light, his sign said "laid off and I have a wife and kid to feed". Told him I needed some help to clean up the yard around the house. Offered him $15 an hour and would pick him up and drive him home everyday. He said "No Thanks". Thinking he was making more that $15 an hour panhandling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are people everywhere that will accept the lowest method of "getting by".
In the past, "fear" kept people working - there were no social nets for those not wanting to work.

Today, one can sleep on a park bench, in a business doorway or under a bridge - and find like-minded folk to socialize with.
What more does one need?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, ToddF said:

My understanding from reading about the homeless population is that a large percentage suffer from chemical dependency and mental illness. Clearly, giving these folks CASH is not the answer. 

Perhaps, increasing the availability of mental health care would be a better option, instead of reducing the availability of mental health care which has been happening for the last several years, at least here in Iowa.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few years back, local new station did an investigation on them, I watched it.  They filmed a homeless couple, one sat in the car in the parking lot while the other stood on the corner with the homeless sign begging.  The car was a new Caddy SVU.  Homeless my arse!  Has a better car than wife and I can afford.  Really pisses me off when I see them with the old sign, jobless/broke/etc standing on a street corner in front of help wanted signs.  Packs of $10 cancer sticks sticking out of pocket, etc.  Even here in the very frigid north, standing on the street corner.  Wife gets mad at me, I say I'm going to go into these stores, pick up employment applications and hand them out to those folks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, pjstough said:

Perhaps, increasing the availability of mental health care would be a better option, instead of reducing the availability of mental health care which has been happening for the last several years, at least here in Iowa.

I agree to a point.  There are some homeless because of mental illness' but way too many are there because of drug addiction.  Help is out there, you can force someone to get help but if they don't want it, forcing them to go through mental health or addiction counseling is worthless.  They have to *want* help.  And why would they want to when they can get what they want by being lazy?  Example, 2 guys down the road from us, big time drunks, one is a druggie.  Both have been through forced rehabs, both drug and alcohol.  They get clean, state gives them their drivers license back (lost from many DUIs) and they run right back to the bottle only to get busted for DUI and do it again, over and over and over....  They are not homeless, parents let them stay there, but I have seen both in town, 30 miles away, standing on street corner begging for money.  When we first moved here, I offered both of them jobs to help me with this place.  Only one took me up on it.  I worked him enough I basically signed my military retirement check every month and gave to him.  With his new found pay, come to find out he was every night going through lots of vodka, him and his brother.  In the end, I discovered I was not helping him but only giving him the means to buy more booze/drugs.  Point is, he did not want mental/alcohol treatment (my wife is was a professional mental health councilor, offered and was turned down), can't help them if they don't want it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One place I worked had someone sleeping under a parked semi trailer next to our building. He had pallets under his sleeping bag and a water jug sitting on the dock in the sun. We never actually saw the guy. Filling up his water jug seemed like something we could do.

Since then I've learned of a woman who simply makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hands them out to street people.

Both of those things feel like "safe" help that actually helps.

Linda Sand

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, pjstough said:

Perhaps, increasing the availability of mental health care would be a better option, instead of reducing the availability of mental health care which has been happening for the last several years, at least here in Iowa.

I'll second that! When the outcry to eliminate mental hospitals was successful back in the 1980's, that  IMO began the decay of our mental health system.

However, one cannot force them to recover.

Talked to a panhandler several years, a fellow veteran. He was making more(we discussed living money) on that street corner that I make from 3 retirements.

Edited by Ray,IN
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should add 12 Step Group info (web links) to my resource sheet. Alcoholics Anonymous exists everywhere, usually meetings at least 1 every night of the week. I believe if most people sober up, they can work at least part-time. They will then be eligible for a nice tax refund in many cases and have the mental lift of being productive members of society. If you can stand on a street corner in the hot sun, you can stand in a retail store or in a factory and do a job. For goodness sake, get a job as a security gate attendant at an RV park. :)

Edited by ToddF
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, ToddF said:

If you can stand on a street corner in the hot sun, you can stand in a retail store or in a factory and do a job. For goodness sake, get a job as a security gate attendant at an RV park.

Nope. Only the street corner lets you set your own days and hours. When struggling with depression there are good days and bad days. I know of no "job" that lets you come to work on your good days but stay home on your bad days. I was once fired from a job because of my inability to come to work on bad days so I understand this struggle more than most people do.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of this topic has talked about homeless due to circumstances.  I am a contractor and have had many refuse to accept work that I had available because they were NOT disadvantaged, they chose to occupy their time by "panhandling" as it is far more lucrative.  Some up to $300/day tax free and without much effort other than standing in a spot for some hours working on the generosity of others that work hard "at work".

I just returned from a job out of town which required me to stay in a motel.  Of course, per diem is difficult to get and more difficult to cover expenses with.  Then add to it that some person decided that the tools in my service truck were of greater value to him/her than to me.  They stole over $3000 worth and it wasnt discovered till we arrived on the jobsite.  3 men without the necessary tools to produce the work that we were "being paid to do".  Had to get that plastic out to buy the tools we needed to accomplish what we were under contract to, and then today figuring out how to pay for that plastic bill, when it comes.  If the negative on the per diem isnt enough then add a $3K negative and this hurts, esp. when what you get paid is what is left over after the bills are paid.  Ouch!

Some of the disadvantaged that I have had work for me, while trying my best to help out a fellow human, only to discover that they are more educated, more intelligent and more capable than I am.  They skipped the line marked "Work Ethic". 

I guess there is a reason why I can sleep well at night.  I do quality work, am honest, dont take what isnt mine, show up on time and stay till the job is done and pay my taxes on time.  I'm not perfect but I sure try my best.

Maybe I will start handing out job applications to those on the freeway offramps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, sandsys said:

Nope. Only the street corner lets you set your own days and hours. When struggling with depression there are good days and bad days. I know of no "job" that lets you come to work on your good days but stay home on your bad days. I was once fired from a job because of my inability to come to work on bad days so I understand this struggle more than most people do.

Linda

Another problem is once a person gets down, it is very difficult to get back up.  It is hard to get and keep a job, if you have no place to live, and getting enough money together to even rent a place is not easy with the high cost of rent these days.

Also, the people we see who are pan handling and making money and wont work, are a small minority of the homeless. There are also lots of people who are working and living in cars, trucks, or motorhomes, many of which are not operational. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Nope. Only the street corner lets you set your own days and hours. When struggling with depression there are good days and bad days. I know of no "job" that lets you come to work on your good days but stay home on your bad days. I was once fired from a job because of my inability to come to work on bad days so I understand this struggle more than most people do.

Linda

My son has struggled with diagnosed chronic clinical depression for all his life.  He isnt a kid.  He works for me.  Interestingly enough, while he has good days and bad ones too, I do what I can to run a company to the best I can while managing his bad days and the work he does or doesnt do on those bad days.  I also expect him to help me out on his good days, because. although not diagnosed, I have bad days too.  I think it sort of evens out, at least in my mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems we all recognize this as a national catastrophy and chronic condition.  Imagine what could be done if the money spent on less necessary issues were to be comprehensively applied to this condition.  None of us look forward to soup lines again, irregardless fo the reason.  

I try to do what I can within my own life.  Kindness can go a long way.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I drive into Minneapolis often in the Spring and Summer to ride my bike around the Chain of Lakes. The faces on the street corners have become familiar to me. They sometimes have a stash of signs behind a pillar and grab one as they make their way to the corner. We make eye contact and they know me now, I've given them a resource sheet listing every imaginable place to get help. What I get are dirty looks! How dare you not give me cash for cigs and beer! They don't need money for transportation, housing, food, or medical care because in Minnesota all of those things are paid by one government program or another!

I've worked as a tax preparer for 30 years serving the mainstream. At least 50% of the people on disability could work if they wanted to. Sometimes they come in dressed for their "cash jobs", or to go hunting, fishing, snow mobiling etc. There is an underground economy that the government doesn't know about. 

Those who are abusing the system are essentially stealing from those who genuinely need help. 

We are in a great economy, people have money to give, there are jobs out there, lots of organizations willing to help. The outlook is bright if you want it to be.

If you want to help, write down the phone number for the local salvation army office and give it to these folks. (Don't give them money). Truthfully, most of these folks know more about the resources than I ever will.

None of this discussion is intended to minimize the difficulty many of us face in life at times. It's okay to need help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to live in San Diego. There was a hepatitis epidemic among the homeless because they would urinate on the sidewalk and then sleep there at night. The city spent millions steam cleaning the downtown sidewalks and put out port-a-potties. The homeless just urinated on the outside wall of the port-a-potty.

One day I was walking downtown to go to lunch at a Burger King. A homeless man outside was begging for food money. I offered to buy him a burger and he refused. Said to give him money. I told him I will give you a burger and nothing else. I went in and ate watching him thru the window begging. He wanted money for booze and smokes not food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, ToddF said:

My understanding from reading about the homeless population is that a large percentage suffer from chemical dependency and mental illness. Clearly, giving these folks CASH is not the answer. 

In my youth I worked in a State Mental Hospital, while waiting to start college. I saw plenty of these people when it was legal to detain them. The same types you see on the streets now for the most part. They will not work, are alcoholic and on drugs if they can get them. Engage in petty and not so petty theft. But are generally non threatening.

Back in the day they kept them in state institutions, the Florida version was dormitories. They could work part time if they wanted. They got free med care, meals, education and entertainment. They had a swimming pool. But they could not leave. There were a few violent patients and they were kept in a locked ward.

That's all gone, the hospitals torn down, after a certain party which controlled congress for 40 years ran some legislation thru that put these people on the streets. Theoretically they were supposed to get care in local centers, but the reason these folks were locked up was that they are completely irresponsible and unless forced they will not cooperate, they especially dislike taking medications and won't. Plus none of this local care was ever really funded. Well they are paying for it now.

I understand that some of the blue states provided considerably less attractive accommodations. Known as snake pits, Odd isn't it that the progressives mistreated folks while the regressive 'south' provided much better homes.

Edited by agesilaus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, pjstough said:

Perhaps, increasing the availability of mental health care would be a better option,

One of the problems is that it is usually impossible to force those people to get the help available if they do not wish to do so. My wife used to work in the office of a large, inner city church that had a food bank and various other assistance programs for such people. It was part of her job dispense very small sums of money to some of these folks. They also offered help for them to get into mental health programs and even provided transportation to the facilities, but many of those most in need of such services either refused to go or didn't stay once there. There is a great deal of freedom to the homeless life once you know the ropes and how to work the system. And not all of those folks are uneducated either. At least one of their regulars had an MBA. That particular fellow was a regular part of the crew that came each Friday to walk the grounds and the parking areas for litter, after which each participant was given lunch and 10, $1 bills for the service. Clearly, not all of the homeless have any desire to change their status and it is very difficult to help those who do not want help.

2 hours ago, pjstough said:

Also, the people we see who are pan handling and making money and wont work, are a small minority of the homeless.

While I am sure that not all of the homeless prefer to live that way, I doubt that any of us know how many  prefer to live that way and how many want to change their life. I do know from personal experience that at least some will try to take advantage of those willing to help, like the fellow who asked me for $7 to have enough to pay for a bus ticket at a truck stop last summer. When I gave him a $10 he then asked if I could spare another $5 for lunch. I often wish that there were some way that I could know which of the homeless really want and need help and which are just panhandlers. Because I don't have that ability, I give to agencies that do provide help and sometimes offer to assist them to places that give assistance.

There is little doubt that some of them are worthy of help and assistance, but I still believe that it is more effective for most of us to give our support to the organizations who are helping, rather then trying to pick out which ones are deserving of our assistance. I once had a friend who would take one or two homeless into his home for Sunday dinner several times per year. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My point exactly they hate taking the meds they are prescribed. And while I was involved the meds had quite unpleasant side effects. But remember one thing, psychosis is a learned behavior, once they have been schizophrenic for years you cannot pull them back to normality. That's why in the hospital that I worked in they kept younger patients in separate wards and gave them very intensive treatment to hopefully keep them from being lost. Normally they tried to keep them 90 days before releasing them to the family.

You cannot do that anymore, I think the max is 30 days and that is only if they are a threat to themselves or others. Which they usually are not. 

I will not give one on the street money or anything else. You are only feeding their addictions. That is not to mention the grifters who beg on the street but who are not mentally ill. The local paper tracked one women who was raking in $300 a day begging outside the local Samsclub. She had a fairly new car and a nice house and a kid in college. She was getting food stamps and other benefits from welfare programs. They estimated her annual take as over $50,000 a year. She vanished after the article.

 

Edited by agesilaus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, jcussen said:

Talked to a 20's something panhandler the other day at a traffic light, his sign said "laid off and I have a wife and kid to feed". Told him I needed some help to clean up the yard around the house. Offered him $15 an hour and would pick him up and drive him home everyday. He said "No Thanks". Thinking he was making more that $15 an hour panhandling.

 

6 hours ago, NDBirdman said:

A few years back, local new station did an investigation on them, I watched it.  They filmed a homeless couple, one sat in the car in the parking lot while the other stood on the corner with the homeless sign begging.  The car was a new Caddy SVU.  Homeless my arse!  Has a better car than wife and I can afford.  Really pisses me off when I see them with the old sign, jobless/broke/etc standing on a street corner in front of help wanted signs.  Packs of $10 cancer sticks sticking out of pocket, etc.  Even here in the very frigid north, standing on the street corner.  Wife gets mad at me, I say I'm going to go into these stores, pick up employment applications and hand them out to those folks.

While there may be some mental illness and dependency issues with many of the people that are homeless and panhandling, the above experiences have been mine as well. This is a case of a few bad apples spoiling the barrel for those that may genuinely need the help. As a result, I will give nothing to any of them. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...