How do you know which "homeless" person to help?

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  1. Luciendasky profile image61
    Luciendaskyposted 14 years ago

    With the recession going on, I have noticed several new cardboard signs asking for food, money or gas. How do you distinguish the real from the fake, and what should you do to help them?

    1. Eaglekiwi profile image73
      Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I help them by either inviting them back  home to eat with us or suggesting they walk like we have too.

      A neigbour friend offered a homeless people some land to dig a garden ,hes still waiting for them , they would rather beg, and they honestly think of begging as their 'real job'.

      I know that is not eveyone ,I wrote a hub about it , but too many are just being lazy!
      I am sick of people asking for a $1 or a cigarette and they have a car , a cellphone ,cable tv , takeouts more than me.

      Nah ya gotta be wise...
      Listen if they dont want garden tools , a fishing rod ,or give up some toys ,they are not getting my hard earned dollar.

      But my door is open if they are hungry ,thirsty or willing to give n take :)honestly.

    2. profile image0
      Lady_Eposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      It's not easy to tell and you wouldn't want to ask them if they were really homeless.

      £1 for a coffee, especially on a cold winter's day wouldn't hurt one's pocket.

      However, if I knew them, I'd do much more - possible take them to the Housing office. (council)

      1. Eaglekiwi profile image73
        Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        If they dont have a problem asking a stranger for money , I woudnt feel bad asking them if they were homeless.

    3. profile image0
      cosetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      i never try to make any distinctions. if someone comes up to me and asks me for money, i give it to them. they are always appreciative, always smile and look like the sun just came out, and it doesn't hurt me to give them what i have in my pockets, which is not a lot since i don't carry a lot of cash on me. one Christmas season, it was really cold out and very son and i had just stopped and gotten a delicious Mexican dinner with all the trimmings. we drove away and i saw this elderly man standing off to the side in front of a K-Mart...this store was built in a way that there was a huge empty lot off to the side, which stretched all the way to the adjacent parking lot where we were. he was holding a cardboard sign that said PLEASE HELP ME and he looked sad and lonesome, so i gave him a $10 bill and his face lit up and he gushed omg thank you thank you. another time a young couple was sitting outside of the pizza hut, their belongings in trash bags and knapsacks waving at people, who ignored them. i picked up my pizza and went to them and gave the young man $20, and i swear i thought he was going to cry. i know i did on the drive home. i don't know what any of those people did with the money...if they bought booze with it, or drugs. i don't really care. they looked bad - shabby clothes, thin, pale...if it helped them get through a rough patch, i'm glad. i like to think it helped that couple just enough to get home safely, or that old man to not feel, just for one day, that he wasn't lower than dirt. does that make me a rube?

      oh well.

    4. Drew Breezzy profile image61
      Drew Breezzyposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Best way to help is volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

      1. Eaglekiwi profile image73
        Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Great idea ,very proactive smile

        1. Drew Breezzy profile image61
          Drew Breezzyposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          Thank you!

          I have done some work with the homeless and have a friend that is extensively active.

          It is best not to give money because a lot of a homeless or as I like to say "Economically Challenged"
          people suffer from substance addiction. As much as they would like to use the money productively they are an addict who needs a fix.

  2. profile image0
    Madame Xposted 14 years ago

    If they really want what their sign says then they will be very grateful when you buy that for them. If you're near a fast food place for example, or near a gas station and you can put $5 in their tank. Otherwise it is most likely a plea for cash for substances (drugs, alcohol).

    I have helped some in that position and they were happy to be fed, etc. But I've also met those who would then say, "oh just give me a few dollars and I'll get it myself". I wouldn't help in that case.

  3. AEvans profile image71
    AEvansposted 14 years ago

    You don't know which homeless person to assist you just have to follow your

    1. profile image0
      Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Yes - and your brain. Homeless people are street smart and you need to be too when dealing with them.

      1. goodfriendiam profile image60
        goodfriendiamposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Yes i go with both, brain and heart, for you can't have one without the other big_smile

    2. nicomp profile image60
      nicompposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      It's condescending to assume any of them are homeless.

      1. profile image0
        Leta Sposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        AEvans is probably one of the kindest people on Hubpages.  And yeah, you do have to follow your heart, basically, and realize you might be just throwing a few dollars away...but also a few dollars that probably don't mean that much to one of us.

        Sometimes, though, you just get a feeling for what people are genuine and what people are not (ahem), and you go with that feeling. 9 times out of 10, with this gut reaction, you are correct.

  4. profile image0
    ryankettposted 14 years ago

    Begging is a huge problem in the UK, but everybody is entitled to benefits and accommodation of some sort. I never give money to homeless people.

    I instead give to homeless charities, who I would hope know what they are doing. A few months ago I had a begger come up and say "You cant spare me a quid can you? another begger has just stolen £120 from me". £120 was more than I had in my current account, so I felt no guilt at telling him to "fuck off".

    In London it was found that many beggers were taking between £150-£200 a day!!!! Thats £39000 a year for a 5 day week, and many of them were found to be living in decent private rented housing. Thats more than most teachers, firefighters and policemen will earn - BEFORE TAX!!

    So in this country (where an infrastructure exists) they can all fuck off or go cold turkey.

    We do have a magazine called the Big Issue though which homeless people/recovering junkies/people in temp accommodation/people that have just come out of prison can sell this magazine and pocket about two thirds of the money. I regularly buy that, as those sellers are doing something at least a little productive, and are only allowed to sell the magazine if they are free of drugs. Thats a brilliant initiative.

    1. Chris1|Chris2 profile image59
      Chris1|Chris2posted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I love the idea of that Big Issue thing. I wish we had something like that in LA. The homeless problem is pretty rampant. There are various homeless shelters, but so many still live day to day under overpasses and in the stoops of commercial buildings. I usually avoid giving them money altogether, mainly because (sad to say) so many of them scare me and I can never tell which are druggies and which aren't. Sometimes though, I feel compelled to buy them food and give it to them. Once I had a guy come right up to me, hold my hand, and say he knew me. Basically, in order to get him off of me, I asked if he wanted me to buy him some food, and he led me to a little shop nearby. It was pretty weird. And VERY creepy, but at least he got fed.

      1. Luciendasky profile image61
        Luciendaskyposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Wow, that sounds a bit scary... but kudos to you for helping out the guy...

  5. Eaglekiwi profile image73
    Eaglekiwiposted 14 years ago

    Seriously you can eat quite well from the $1 store!

    But it is a serious problem when the wealth of a nation is mainly going to the top, so many genuinely miss out.

    Just reading the other posts though reminded me of this story ,cracked me up for days.

    Downtown and against my better judgement I gave this guy $2 who asked for buy something to eat.

    25 mins walking back down the street the same guy asked me again for money...I said hey I just gave you $2 bucks before ,didnt you eat yet , he snarled at me ( not so sweet this time) and bellowed ...WELL IM HUNGRY AGAIN!

    lol lol yea fool me.

  6. Davinagirl3 profile image60
    Davinagirl3posted 14 years ago

    My husband suffered a pretty bad injury in the first gulf war.  If I see someone with a sign that says "injured war vet" and they are running around, darting in and out of traffic, in the blazing sun, I will not give them a dime.  My husband can no longer run, and he even has a hard time standing, sometimes. He is in misery for much of his day, but he does everything he can to get up and go to work.  I will give to people who have a visible injury, such as a missing limb.  I will also "try" to give food to those who are asking for food.  A lot of times they just try to get money.  It is really hard to help people in the city.  It is almost impossible to tell the truly destitute from the fakers.

  7. Luciendasky profile image61
    Luciendaskyposted 14 years ago

    Definitely good advice... it is sad that there are so many "con-artist homeless" so that the real homeless go hungry.

    1. profile image0
      Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      The real sad thing is that the con artists are just as hungry and just as homeless.

  8. manlypoetryman profile image81
    manlypoetrymanposted 14 years ago

    I've seen one guy who was washing car windows on the corner...instead of begging (like the strong abled guy next to him)...and asking a buck ($1) a pop for each car! Now, Let me see...'cause I seriously went..."Ka-ching" inside my own brain at that point...and I have to be hit over the head in order to see how to make $...on most occasions.

    Think about it: If your at a good intersection...stop light goes for at least two minutes maybe three. You can probably get at least one car in that time...every time...if you hustle. So, at $1 dollar your pulling at least $30.00 an hour!!! (tax-free) HHHMMM...not that promising as a way to get rich...but at least your able to pay for the mortgage and groceries if you stay at it...right...?!'s the real clincher...I watched this guy get a fiver instead of $1...when he had completed the job..."Ka-ching"! And...he had worked for cleaned the headlights and wiped the driver's door handle! I imagine that he may get more than $5 buck tips on many occasions. Bottom line...I'd rather be working for my $...than begging...even something as menial as washing windows...on the same corner where others are begging!

  9. profile image0
    annvansposted 14 years ago

    I wouldn't help the one who is begging.  If I were going to help someone, I would find someone who is not begging that is really poor and you know they are poor and help them.  Talk to people and find out who is really poor.  I know of lots of people who 'appear' to be poor and drive old vehicles and even live in run down houses who have saved every dime they have ever gotten and are actually rich.  Don't fall for that, make sure you are helping someone who is really poor.

  10. profile image0
    annvansposted 14 years ago

    There was a man in the town I grew up in who walked the streets like he was poor.  He was filthy rich!

  11. earnestshub profile image79
    earnestshubposted 14 years ago

    Australia has a good social security system, yet there are sp many people that fall through the gaps because of mental or other illness. If I see someone who is in need I help if I can, because it does not worry me much if I get dudded for a few dollars occasionally. I like to focus on the truth that it does me little harm, and sometimes a few dollars, a warm smile is enough to see them through a better day. smile

    1. Marisa Wright profile image85
      Marisa Wrightposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Here in Sydney, it often seems like the "dudders" outnumber the genuine.  There was an article in the SMH on the weekend about a guy who sits outside the city Myer store with his cardboard placard.  He's been there several years and I've given him money on occasion.

      Turns out he's raking in about $1,000 a week! 

      There are also several people, usually women, who haunt the train stations asking for a dollar or two because they have to get home to some country station to see their sick mother.  My usual response is to offer to take them to the ticket counter and buy the whole ticket - and not one of them will take me up on it! 

      I do give money to the guy who played the penny whistle - he was dreadful when he started, but he kept plugging away, and now he's bought a basic shoe shine kit.  Someone like that deserves encouragement.

  12. Eaglekiwi profile image73
    Eaglekiwiposted 14 years ago

    Thing is giving people money is not helping
    Teaching them to grow food is IMO smile

    1. nicomp profile image60
      nicompposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Good idea. If they're begging at a freeway off ramp, they could be tending a little garden on the side.

      1. Eaglekiwi profile image73
        Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Oh America isnt all tar and cement yet is it ( rolls her eyes upwards) lol

        No nicomp ,they might just have to walk to get food! imagine that.

      2. profile image0
        Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this


  13. profile image0
    cosetteposted 14 years ago

    What It's Like by Everlast

    One Of us by Joan Osborne

    (yes i have feelings about this topic, as i was very poor and even homeless as a child. i live a very comfortable affluent life now but i haven't forgotten...)

    1. Eaglekiwi profile image73
      Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Now you sound like youd be an interesting person to know and learn so many memories smile

  14. Valerie F profile image61
    Valerie Fposted 14 years ago

    Gut instinct is a good start. What I also do is talk to them if they are approachable and polite. (Most of the homeless I have met are.)If they're open and honest about what they need, I try to meet that. One guy and his wife who'd just lost their home in the recession asked me if I had money, because they needed to buy a tent and/or a tarp to keep dry. The shelters were full. And the weather was rotten. As a matter of fact, I had a tent that I was trying to get rid of. I asked if that would be fine. They accepted it, so I knew they weren't out for the money. I then gave them some money and sent them to a diner just down the street where they then got a hot meal. That was the last time I ever gave anyone on the street money. Most of the time, if they want food, that's exactly what I give them.

    But I am a sucker for buskers. If a talented, hard working street musician has an open guitar case or something similar before them and I have any money to spare, I give them some. Especially if they play requests.

    1. profile image0
      Leta Sposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I've been known to give large denomination bills, sometimes, lol.  Though it is hard in a place like San Francisco, as there ARE many con artists...  Other than that, my bf is usually the one to give people rides, money, and all kinds of goods away.  He's like that.  Sometimes it surprises me.

      Street musicians are earning their pay--the do in NYC, especially in the subway on a Fri. night (I miss that).  Some of them are actually making good money.

      I guess mainly, I feel I did my part as far as the 'volunteer' stuff, as I've worked with refugees, taught ESL, worked with adult illiterates (volunteer coordinator) for a few years right out of college.  I give and do what I can now...and feel it's enough.

  15. Lisa HW profile image62
    Lisa HWposted 14 years ago

    If I knew someone was homeless for sure I wouldn't have any problem giving him money for even cigarettes or alcohol, because I picture being outside, humiliated, uncomfortable, stressed out from loss, etc.; and I just think if a smoke or a drink will help them from feeling like they want to kill themselves, or else that they'll go insane, I'd rather give them whatever it would take under the circumstances.  Whether we approve or not, or whether it's best in the long run or not, things like smoking and drinking can actually help a person not feel like he's losing his mind in the short-term.  I just think one challenge for homeless people has to be not going insane or killing oneself before finding a place to live.  I just don't think - if you're homeless and grieving from whatever life you may have lost, and struggling day-to-day - that's the time (or the street is the place) to be in withdrawal from nicotine or even alcohol.

    On the other hand, cardboard signs seem to "orchestrated" to me.  I don't trust them.  Not long ago a young guy (late twenties, maybe) came and did a very convincing story about how embarrassed he was to ask, but how he and his girlfriend had no gas (blah blah blah) - and any little bit of money would help.  He said they just needed to get a gas can and gas in order to drive to a gas station.  I didn't entirely trust him, but I gave him the $3 I had in my pocket.  The girlfriend showed up, and the two of them thanked me profusely.  Then I saw them head off into the middle of the parking lot, where they got in a car and drove off!!   mad  I had been led to believe they couldn't move the car without adding gas from a gas can.   Maybe they had just exaggerated a genuine problem, or maybe it was a giant con.  I felt stupid, though.  I knew when I was giving them the (measly) $3 they could be phonies, but I figured it was worth the $3 gamble in case they weren't.  It will be some time before I ever give anyone money, though.  mad

  16. Eaglekiwi profile image73
    Eaglekiwiposted 14 years ago

    Thats really cool Lita , kind and generous.

    Sadly there is a new homelessness now too, caused by genuine economics times these last 18mths.

    I guess most people are good at heart and want to give and then there will always be takers because thats what they know works for them.

    I just believe in that proverb (forget who said it)

    Give a man fish for one day ,feed one man
    Teach him how to fish,feed a whole village smile


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