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Do The Homeless Really Need Money?

Updated on January 26, 2015
Police officer buys a shoeless man on streets some shoes on a cold night in New York City.
Police officer buys a shoeless man on streets some shoes on a cold night in New York City.

Does it really help to give money?

Many of us have heard the story of the police officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man in New York City on a cold night. If you read the follow up on that story the homeless man is walking around barefoot again. Another story is of a of a man who had a homeless man living near his home and he told the man to help himself to his garden for food. As winter approached he gave the man a heavy hunting jacket to keep warm during the cold nights. A couple of days later he saw the homeless man walking around without a jacket so he asked him what happened to the jacket he gave him. He replied that he was able to trade it for a bottle of whiskey. There are many stories like this and it makes you wonder if these people are really down on their luck or do they choose to live this way?

I'm not saying that all people living on the street choose to live that way but many have chosen that lifestyle. They have to want help before you can actually help them and if they want the help they will find a way. This is human nature to want to help people however many take advantage of our kindness and can ruin it for the ones that really need it. Next time a homeless person asks your for some spare change just ask him what he really wants it for and if he says he's hungry, buy them something to eat instead, at least you'll know you didn't contribute to an addiction.

Some need money to eat, some want it for their bad habits, some are just lazy, some are mentally ill. How do you know when to give someone money to help their situation? You Don't and you can't expect to know.
Some need money to eat, some want it for their bad habits, some are just lazy, some are mentally ill. How do you know when to give someone money to help their situation? You Don't and you can't expect to know.

Are They Really Down On Their Luck?

When you drive up to a corner and see a man holding a sign saying "Homeless and hungry, please help" do you give them money? Many of us do and it makes us feel better however are we actually helping these people or just supporting their habits? It's hard to tell because there a few that really are down on their luck and may be hungry but many are just looking for their next fix. Ever since I gave a homeless person money on a corner only to see him walking across the street later on with a bottle of cheap booze, I have never given cash out to a homeless person again until I saw this video below. This is a heart warming story of a person who is down on their luck, given $100 then followed to find out how they would spend it. I since have changed my position on giving money to the homeless after seeing this video.

Volunteer at Homeless Shelters

Since then I've volunteered at homeless shelters to not only help with the everyday tasks but I've found out that the best help you can give to the homeless is to teach them skills that they can use to get jobs. Some of the skills you can teach are how to use computers and their basic programs, how to impress during an interview, sales skills are always useful and even how to cook. If you have any of these skills you can volunteer at many homeless shelters in your area and donate your time instead of money. It doesn't matter if your not a professional, as long as you can teach them something different that can help them get actual jobs it helps more than giving them money directly. By doing this your helping people that really want the help and you can feel even better about the work your doing. Family shelters are some of the best places to start because they usually have time limits on how long the families can stay in the shelter so time is of the essence. Try looking up some shelters in your area and give them a call to see where you can help in the skills teaching department.

Family homeless shelter are limited in the amount of time the family can stay there so it is imperative that they find jobs and a place to stay as soon as possible.
Family homeless shelter are limited in the amount of time the family can stay there so it is imperative that they find jobs and a place to stay as soon as possible.


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    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      By the way: I grew up in poverty and at times on welfare most of my childhood. I experienced homelessness with my family for 3 months in Phoenix, AZ in the dead of summer. It was only because someone offered to train my father in a different field and gave him a job to allow us to move into a camper. I speak from experience and this is why I help at the homeless shelters.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I agree with many things you're saying, however I am not saying in this article to not help the homeless. My title is clear on that. My point of the article is to get people off their couch and help them in a productive manner. The families that are victims are in dire need of either a job in their field or in need of some serious training so they can get a job in another field. These people need guidance or a job, not money that will get them by for one meal. If more of us help in this way it will get the homeless people that want help off the street. There are too many that choose to be on the street and those are some of the people I've run across. Sit down one day and talk with them, get to know them and you'll see what I'm talking about.

      I spend a lot of time helping out at the family shelters because I know they need it most to help their families. If government wants to get involved then they should open more shelters with training programs for these people to give them new employment opportunities. You have some great points and not all are families nor are they drug addicts/alcoholics. Take time out of our schedules to help in a different way because obviously many people are giving money to homeless people on the corners but it hasn't helped the problem either. We all have to work together on this and there is no one solve all solution but we can make serious progress if we work with the ones who want the help.

    • Aunt Jimi profile image

      Aunt Jimi 

      5 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

      When I was a child there were all but no homeless people. Homeless people have increased in the last 25 years and especially in the last 5 years.

      I think what my friend above is saying is that you should not assume every homeless person you see is on drugs or abusing alcohol. How can you "clearly see" when a homeless person is on drugs or alcohol? What are the obvious signs?

      From what was described above, the 'clear sign' was that the man ran and bought a bottle of alcohol right away with the money you gave him. So apparently his addiction, if it is an addiction, isn't so clear at first sight. If it had been you wouldn't have given him the money, sî?

      Nor should you assume a large percentage of the homeless or all of them are abusing drugs or alcohol. Right now a lot of people who lost their jobs and their homes in the Great Bank Heist of 2008 are living in tents. More than you might expect have college degrees, grad school degrees, and families (as in children) living in those tents with them. Do you think they're all having family drug parties every night?

      What I read in your hub and what I read in the comments on this hub was similar to the following: "I'm leery of helping homeless people now because I saw the one I gave some money to head straight for the liquor store," etc. Don't paint all homeless people with the same paint brush because not all homeless people are abusing substance. Why do you want to punish all homeless people because of a very few? Don't you think being homeless and having to dumpster dive for food is punishment enough? Try it for a while and see for yourself. There is no teacher like experience.

      Since we have had homeless people for so many years, and you believe it's easy to come up with ways to help these people instead of just throwing money at the problem, why haven't we done that? Why haven't we found a solution to help these people in more than 25 years?? How long before we find this easy remedy you're talking about? Keep in mind that people are homeless and hungry while you refuse them food and shelter because you're working on a permanent solution -- or that just an excuse for not helping. Out of compassion, speed it up.

      You make it sound like my friend Au fait is the one who is preventing people from helping the homeless. Au Fait is not the one using an excuse for not helping them. I know Au fait and have for many years and she has always been an advocate for the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the underprivileged, and anyone who isn't getting a fair shake.

      Neither Au fait or myself are the ones who are worried that we might give a couple of dollars to a junkie. Neither of us lie awake at night in anguish because we may have given a few dollars earlier that day to someone who may be a substance abuser.

      We are not the ones who passed the laws making it illegal to be homeless in so many cities across this country. We are not the ones who scream bloody murder at the thought of giving poor people medical care or food stamps. Guess who it is? It may be you. Who did you vote for in the last election? The Party with compassion or the Party that doesn't have any clue about what compassion means?

      Do not accuse people you know nothing about and who are very probably doing more than you are, of not "truly caring" about these people because we do not have your naivety. Every single homeless person would have a safe roof over their head, food in their belly, and any necessary medical care yesterday, if I had my say about it, and I think Au fait would agree.

      We would also see that everyone able had the opportunity to hunt for a good job just as soon as the Voldemort Party decides to stop blocking every effort to create some jobs because right now there aren't any. Voldemort and his gang promised that if they were elected in 2010 the first thing they would do is get to work creating jobs and resolving the jobless situation. So far, nearly 3 years later, they have done nothing except rail about same sex marriage and pass laws against abortion. Oh yes, they also cut education funding and are trying to cut SS benefits and Medicare.

      I invite you to read my hub titled "Incredible Quotes by Republicans."

      Something tells me you have never been poor. Pray as hard as you know how that you will never know what that's like.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I agree to some extent Au Fait, but to give someone money that is clearly a drug attic or alcoholic is not the right thing to do. Most of these people have given up on life or are co-dependent on a substance, we need to figure out ways to really help them rather than just getting them by until their next fix. It's true we shouldn't judge these people but if you truly care about the homeless we'll figure out other ways to get them off the street and clean physically and mentally. It's too easy to just give them money so you can receive a blessing from God. You have to ask yourself, am I helping this person so I can get a blessing from God? or am I helping this person so they can better their life?

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      When you help someone you receive a blessing from God no matter what they do with your help. You receive the blessing no matter how they use what you have given them. They in turn must answer for how they used that help. Your only responsibility is to help and to do the right thing and you get the blessing. It isn't your job to judge them. Do that and you lose the blessing and more.

      Taking a poor person food is acceptable too, but in many cities these days it is illegal to give anything to a homeless person.

      It is the belief of some of the 'better people' that homeless people are like dogs and if you feed them they will just come back for more. The people with this attitude will surly be sitting at the right hand of God in Heaven one day -- for those who don't understand, I am being facetious about this last sentence.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I know how you feel, I feel the same way. I want to help them but most of them are just looking for a way to find their next fix. There is help if they want it and I'd rather help someone that wants the help and is trying to get their life in line.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for your article. I always feel horrible seeing homeless people with signs and not giving them anything, but it made me feel better thinking about ways I could be more useful, as well as more sure that my efforts were going to be productive.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      That quote has never been so true. We need more people like yourself in this world and it would solve many problems we face today.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      "If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat every day." I agree with you on so many points. I used to work for a company that sponsored the local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Once a month, they would ask for volunteers to provide assistance at the two locations. I usually volunteered to work in the kitchen, serving meals. It was a great way to give back to the community and help families in need.

      Great hub. Voted up and shared.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I think that is a great idea! Even though many people are permanently disabled and unable to work doesn't mean they can't be of some help to others. I wish him well and thank you for your kind comment.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I just read this, and really thank you for the uplifting idea for my husband who is permantly disabled, and is losing self confidence. He has many fine skills to help others grow into entry level employment opportunities. He himself is unable to work, however has mentally retained many of his past careers skills. I mean he would at least be able to teach from his wheelchair. Just a thought. Good article cyoung35

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      My husband and I bought a homeless man in a wheelchair a sandwich. He wheeled himself straight on over to the trash dumpster. I can't say for sure whether he threw the sandwich into the dumpster or not, but it did make me question his motives. Who eats a sandwich next to a dumpster? Anyway, I think (like you) there are many other ways to serve homeless people in a way that you know they are appreciative and genuinely helped.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      5 years ago from Corona, CA

      Very true statement Sweetie1. I believe the same way, if they continue to get money for just begging, why would they do anything else?

    • sweetie1 profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Hi cyong35,

      Right now a Radio station is collecting warm clothes in Delhi to give it to poor homeless people so they can be kept warm this winter and they would distribute it to them on this Christmas. We too donated couple of sweaters for it. But if someone begs then I wont give him any money because once you give money to beggar than you have made him beggar for life.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      My experience with giving to the homeless is that there are times when I'm impressed to give, and I give without asking any questions. There are other times when I have reservations and I adopt the questioning attitude. Follow your heart, is my suggestion. Thanks for sharing.

    • cyoung35 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Young 

      6 years ago from Corona, CA

      Very Good Points by both of you and you're right Hatti when you say to make sure the person is safe to talk to before just going up to them. Some are so desparate that they may do anything to get what they want. I don't understand why they would want to be homeless either but I do know there have been times where I wanted to just throw up my hands and say "I Quit!" however my inner drive won't let me quit. It's just not in my nature to quit anything and maybe some of these people have just given up or have no motivation to help themselves any longer. Thank you for the comments.

    • dailytop10 profile image


      6 years ago from Davao City

      I really don't give money to beggars since we can't be sure whether they'll use it properly or not. However, I've give food, used clothes, toys, and other useful stuffs to those who are in need.

    • penlady profile image


      6 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      This hub is very thought provoking. Yes, there are homeless people who choose to be homeless. I don't understand why, but it's a choice that they consciously make. A friend of my sister's has a relative who chooses to be homeless. He simply doesn't want any help getting off the streets.

      There are also those who want to get off the streets. These are the ones who should be helped. And you said it best - by providing them with skills.

      Brilliant hub; voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image


      6 years ago from Europe

      Think it depends on the location you are living, and whether your familiar with the homeless in that area. For instance where I live you rarely see one on the street. I did one night and gave them 60.oo because it was rare that you would find this in my location. On the other hand in the next few towns I would evaluate the situation. Ask them a lot of questions and talk to them for a few minutes about where they stay, where they eat, if they know local shelters, and area resources. You can get an idea about things by asking questions. You also have to evaluate whether it is a safe person or not to be talking too. There are different levels of homeless individuals. Some are drug addicts, alcoholics, and strung out on stuff. They are choosing it, and prefer that life style. They have done studies on this, and lots of shelters have found out that it is a matter of choice. They have the options, all you can do is point the way to the local homeless shelter or place to eat.


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