today, the mayor announced the latest piece of his plan, downtown donation boxes for the homeless, so people can "give at the box" rather than give money directly to panhandlers. the idea is that if everyone gives at the box, panhandling will become ineffective and people will stop doing it. this might work, but i think the key question is whether the folks who really need the money will actually get it. if people stop panhandling because they no longer need the income, that's great. but if they still need the money but no longer have a legal way to get it, that only makes things worse.
but my reason for posting was this quote from the indy star article:
Ballard and homeless advocates said most panhandlers are not homeless. Instead, they are scam artists betraying people's trust and good intentions, he said.
wow, most panhandlers aren't homeless? that struck me as a bold claim. it would've been nice if the star had thought to fact-check this assertion, but since no fact-checking was done, i decided to take it upon myself. and what did i find?
in this study of winnipeg panhandlers, 60% were homeless. this study found that the typical pandhandler "is a homeless, white male who is likely disabled". this toronto study found that "the majority of panhandlers in Toronto are homeless and living in extreme poverty". a more recent toronto study found that "three in four beggars are homeless".
contrary to what mayor ballard claims, the majority of panhandlers are homeless. of the ones who aren't, the vast majority are still poor and struggling to get by. the myth of the huckster who panhandles all day then goes home to a middle-class house is just that: a myth, propagated by those who want to justify their disgust toward and dehumanization of the poor, specifically the homeless.
i understand why some "homeless advocates" might want to support a donation-box program like this one, and to curb panhandling. but if i were CHIP or one of the other unnamed homeless advocates who were in attendance, i would be grossly offended by the lies told in my name by the mayor, and then attributed to me in the newspaper. (i'm giving CHIP the benefit of the doubt and assuming they were not the source of this false information; if they were then shame on them for not knowing what they're talking about.)
there's supposed to be more coverage in the star tomorrow; we'll see if that includes fact-checking this time. ¶