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Begging on Street Corners

Updated on November 13, 2015

A Typical Scene On A Local Corner

Can You Help Me?

Have you seen them? Most major intersections in Austin host at least one person looking for a handout. The signs they carry range from humorous to serious. The one theme evident with each of them is their plea for help!

Most of these individuals extend their invite for a handout while cars wait at stoplights. You can see them pace the sidewalks or grassy areas along the road with card board signs that plead their case, while they check out each individual car, hoping to make eye contact with a driver.

Walking the Traffic Island

You might see a bag with a hamburger, a bottle of water, or a bill pass from a car. There are many Austinites with generous hearts who are compelled to give.

You will often see the same individual on the same corner over a period of time. There seems to be a sense of ownership to the real estate. Many are homeless and consider this their main source of income. Standing on a corner waiting for the next dollar can be serious business!

Groups of Homeless

If the weather is bad or the traffic is slow, you may see a group of homeless people sitting under a bridge. They will sometimes take turns on the corner while the others remain concealed around the corner. Working in teams, they provide the labor resource for a street corner or area of intersections.

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To Give Or Not To Give

There are several things to consider when giving to the needs of these individuals. Drinking and drugging are prominent among the homeless population. Cash may be used to buy drink or drugs. There is food and shelter available to the homeless. The Salvation Army and other organizations specifically target this population to provide housing and shelter. My experience tells me that many of the homeless that we see on street corners don't like the rules and regulations imposed on them through these agencies and organizations.

I think that food donated to these individuals is often rejected. Still, I feel it is a great way to respond to the need in a practical manner. I recommend food gifts over monetary gifts unless you know the specifics of the case. The bottom line is to listen to your heart and be true to what you feel you should do.


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  • susansisk profile image

    susansisk 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

    We often have women in parking lots that say they need milk for their baby. They don't want milk, and often don't have a baby.

  • PaulaK profile image

    Paula Kirchner 7 years ago from Austin. Texas

    Pmccray, I too have seen some interesting cases on the corner. Nowadays, I look around the corner for that car or what they are wearing. Perhaps I have become calloused to some degree.

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

    I too believe that food donations are the best. I'm a jaded ex Los Angelean, and have seen these same supposedly homeless beg all day then leave the site in a better vehicle than I have.

    My best friend faced off with a woman carrying a sign at the post office. Loudly admonishing her for begging while wearing expensive tennis shoes we working stiffs can't afford!

  • classicalgeek profile image

    classicalgeek 7 years ago

    I know someone who gave homeless people gift cards to Souper Salad. A $5 gift card and a little change will buy them as much as they can eat, and some of it might be marginally healthier than fast food. Plus I used to work at Souper Salad and was mistreated by the owners, managers, and other employees, so I consider it my way of giving back. :)

    How is the homeless center in Austin doing?

  • ExpandYourMind profile image

    ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

    No one seems to have the solution to the homeless problem, Paulak. Like yourself, I try to help if I can and I agree food donations are best. Thanks for highlighting this problem.