Why I Never Give Money To Homeless People

by Broke Grad on July 29, 2008

This past weekend I was hanging out in the city with a few of my friends. The city is the place to be on the weekends. You’ll find some of everything there — residents, tourists, freaks, geeks, foreigners, dudes, chicks, dudes dressed as chicks, chicks dressed as dudes, and the homeless. While we were hanging out in the city, my friends and I were approached by homeless people multiple times.

Having spent four years of my life bombarded by panhandlers in Chicago, saying no is practically second nature to me now. Seeing the same people on the El asking for money every weekend made me grow rather cynical. There was one incident in particular where one of the perpetual panhandlers started saying his lines, and a lady started warning the other passengers not to give him money because he didn’t need it.

In other incidents, I’ve seen homeless people flat out refuse food from others just trying to help them out. Apparently, some of them are hungry for money, not food. Other times I’ve seen people give a homeless person some money, only for the homeless person to get mad when they can’t spare a little more. These experiences have left quite an impression on me, and that’s why I never give homeless people money.

I know it sounds selfish, and maybe it is. However, this study shows that I’d fit right in with the college students at UNC when it comes to giving handouts to the homeless. Here are the main reasons I never give homeless people money.

You don’t know what they are going to do with it. I really hate the feeling of not knowing if they spend the money on something useful. Of course, their signs always mention they need money for food, but we all know that it could just as easily go towards drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. I’m not trying to stereotype all homeless people this way, but my biggest concern is that I have no idea which ones are being genuine and honest.

Sometimes they aren’t even thankful. As I mentioned before, some homeless people blatantly refuse food offerings because they’d prefer money. That’s like having a friend throw away a birthday cake you made for them because they prefer pie. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve helped an old lady cross the street and held doors open for strangers, and these people have been more grateful than any homeless person I ever gave money to before I adopted my new policy.

There are better alternatives. In fact, maybe the reason some homeless people aren’t thrilled about money and food is because they’re really just looking for conversation, as this article suggests. As far as money is concerned, I prefer donating to organizations that help the homeless rather than giving money directly to the homeless, because I know that the money will be used appropriately.

With that being said, my friends see things differently. All of them ended up giving change to most of the homeless people we ran into this weekend. In fact, one of the homeless guys tried to make me feel guilty for being the only person in our group to not give him some money, and it made me wonder.

Do we give money to the homeless to help them out or do we do it to feel better about ourselves?

Most, if not all, of the people I’ve met who regularly give money to the homeless mention a common feeling — guilt. When you mention that the homeless person could spend the money on something bad, they usually say something like, “That’s not my responsibility anymore.” Basically, they’ve done their good deed, and the overwhelming feeling of guilt is gone.

Do you give money to the homeless? Is the act of giving a selfish act?

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{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Samm January 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm

To who ever wrote this post. That is a very cruel opinion but I’m not going to give you a piece of my mind instead I’ll tell you that I’m homeless right now. Disregard the things I’ve accomplished, the degree once, or the fact that I risked my life and vowed to protect your ability to speak so openly. Instead I’ll tell you that many famous people were homeless like Hally berry, and Sylvester stallone and one day I’ll hopefully join them and when I do it will be my greatest pleasure to comment on this post again. And tell everyone that will always give to anyone who know what it’s like in this position. I hope you never experience this. Even for someone like you, no one deserves to go more than a day without food shelter and piece of mind.

2 Nikki January 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I never give money to beggars either. I used to live in a major city and I currently work in another major city. At every single traffic light are people with signs saying they’re homeless and please give them money. I can’t even walk into a store without being accosted. Most of these people are homeless because they could not stop shooting up or drinking, NOT because they hit hard times. The remainder of these people are running scams, I actually saw one of them standing beneath an underpass on his cell….after he asked people in cars for money.

Last year I lost my job and I have 3 small kids. Did I bother strangers to give me money? No, I got up off my butt and looked for another job. I have too much dignity to be at a traffic light begging for spare change.

Those of you who think I’m mean for not giving them money, try living where I used to live. You would go broke trying to do your “good deeds”. If you want to give beggars your hard-earned money, go right ahead. But DO NOT tell me I’m bad for not doing it. I would rather spend the money on my kids. I pay enough in taxes to help these people. If you want to be a good Samaritan, try donating to agencies that help the homeless.

3 Joel January 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Nikki, perhaps we live in different type cities. I live in a small metropolitan in Louisiana. I’m assuming you were living in LA or Chicago? Anyway, moving on. I understand that you may have dealt with some cons in your life and one can’t help all homeless people, but I don’t think it’s right to just disregard all homeless people as trash. Let’s not forget, there is only so much that agencies and charities can do, it’s going to take alot more than charities, especially now when we have all kinds of people relying on some kind of aide. You have kids, understood so you don’t have much change to give, but the author of this post just comes across as very cold hearted IMO.

4 kamerali sohbet January 29, 2013 at 3:09 am

modelgeceleri

5 college loans online January 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm

it depends for me on the day and my mood.

6 John February 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

@ Joel: >> I understand that you may have dealt with some cons in your life and one can’t help all homeless people, but I don’t think it’s right to just disregard all homeless people as trash.

Nikki never said they were trash. She said most, not all, were homeless due to some kind of mental handicap or addiction. She also mentioned that the ‘feel good/without guilt’ is rather counterproductive because the giver doesn’t know what the homeless person will do with the money. That’s indirectly making them dependent on the kindness of strangers; they are in fact taking advantage of people’s kindness in the worst way.

>>Let’s not forget, there is only so much that agencies and charities can do, it’s going to take alot more than charities, especially now when we have all kinds of people relying on some kind of aide.

What does this have to do with “helping” (giving them money) the homeless? You’re playing the guilt card.

>>You have kids, understood so you don’t have much change to give, but the author of this post just comes across as very cold hearted IMO.

Your opinion is naive and short sighted.

7 Joel February 8, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Wow, thanks John for the completely misunderstanding my post. I don’t consider my opinion to be naive or short sighted. The author of this post does come across as very callous and judgmental. Nobody is playing any guilt card, it’s just the truth that there is only so much that organizations can do. I don’t have to many encounters w/ homeless folks but again, I don’t live in a large metropolitan area. With that being said, if I have a little spare, I try and help if I can b/c I would certainly want someone to help me if I were in the situation. Granted I am very skeptical about who I will and won’t help since my encounter w/ a very unappreciative individual over two years ago.

8 charles July 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I dont give beggers money. For the most part its a scam or for drugs. I work full time to support myself. I am putting myself through college on minium wage. I make it work. I pay for my own rent, i dont have any family to help me, and i make almost nothing and am working constantly. If i can support myself at 18 then so can all these homeless adults

9 Jimmy Lumpford January 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN…I KNOW IT HARD FOR EVERYONE.. SO PLEASE LISTEN…I BEEN OUT OF WORK FOR ABOUT 5 YEARS…AND I HAVE ALL BAD LUCK AND I DOn’t KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO..SO I THOUGHT OF WRITING TO HEAR./..I WILL BE BLESS IF EVERYONE THAT READ THIS CAN DONATE TO ME PLEASE I WILL BE BLESS.I CAN START TO CATCH THE BUS…TO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN….LOOK FOR WORK AND GET AROUND..I WALK EVERY WHERE NOW..AND I CANT NOT GO TO FAR BECAUSE MY HEALTH IT NOT GOOD.. AND I NEED TO GO TO THE DENTIST LIKE LAST YEAR MY TOOTH IS JUST HURTING REALLY BAD..SO PLEASE IF U CAN SEND IT TO…JIMMY..CONTACT ME FOR INFO WHERE TO SEND . JIMMYRICH31 AT YAHOO DOT COM THANK U VERY MUCH..AND MAY GOD BLESS U AND FAMILY WITH ALL HIS LOVE….

10 Logan Westerfield (the smart one) January 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Well, you see not everybody has the same opinion you have the nice, decent, dicks, and the just plain greedy. Some people have had bad experiences (the man that wrote it). Others have not, to you people that are bitching at him GET A LIFE! I’m sure if this man/women wanted your opinion on it he would surely ask. So to all you dumb fucks that were talking about.. Well? Idk what the hell you were talking about, and neither do you. Have a nifty day and just STFU. :)

11 JS February 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I no longer help homeless ppl bc the truth is a lot of them are just ungrateful brats!

12 Linda March 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Ive read all posts. I.ve donated to 1man that didnt want 3 dollars .he wanted ten. Folks around here have seen money ronls and panhandlers that make that their job. Onthe a.oth er hand. I am 57 i broke my leg. Pullefd a ligament and fracturtd my knee. I cant get help
Churched only help their members. I lost my job. Im now o disability.got evictrd. I rented a piece of junk trailor that had blavk mold in it. I wad forced to live in my van. I keep my welfare phone so i can look for help. I have 2birds 2 dogs 2 cats. They areall saved from death. One bird has no legs one cat lost her teeth. One dog was gonna b shot. I took um loved um. They were with me .i didnt beg

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