Sunday, April 08, 2007

Handouts for the Homeless

Last night in downtown Kalamazoo, a young man accused me of being "un-heartless" for not giving him money. Was he right? Is refusing to give a handout to a (presumably) homeless person "un-heartless?" I think reasonable people can disagree on this, but while I want to help out the homeless, I think it's probably better to give to shelters. In my limited understanding of the homeless experience, I think that some people don't want to go to shelters because they can't do drugs or drink there. If they are sustained by handouts, they stay out on the street. But if they went to a shelter they would be warm and well fed. They could also get cleaned up, learn that crack is wack and maybe find a job. But when I see them, I feel a little guilty all the same. The Onion offers this point/counterpoint on the issue. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

matt said...

I hear ya. I never give money to homeless. I will occasionally give our leftovers if we have been out to eat or sometimes go back in to someplace like Panera and get a bagel or something to give to them.

I am generally of the opinion that the homeless problem is usually as you said something if not everything to do with drugs or alcohol abuse. I don't want to give money to homeless that could be spent directly on the source of the problem.

I have been hit up for money to "get into the shelter" several times this winter here in Chattanooga. I have thought about going to the shelter and buying some vouchers to hand out to people that really need them. I think this is a better way to help than giving money to be spent at THEIR discretion.