municipal brains........

Joined Dec 12, 2000
Or lack thereof, This has totally nothing to do with food, just something I would like to throw this out to get some opinions, here in Kamloops, there is a problem with panhandlers and beggars, so in an effort to control the problem at hand, city council has come up with the idea, that anyone who gives money to a beggar or panhandler should be fined $25. I think that's a little crazy.
Joined Mar 4, 2000
How about trying to solve the real problem?? That's so silly. And what if an out-of-towner tries to help a homeless person, without knowing about the fine?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
It's a tough issue in a lot of ways.

Is it fair to those who are trying to do business in the streets legally who have to get licences, pay fees, taxes and on and on when many of the professional beggars make a better living tax free? Not that they're all professional, but there are pros out there. The taco stands in my area are rather perturbed about it.

Is it done safely? The major exits on our freeways are clogged with beggars looking for a handout. No business would be allowed to advertise and set up there because of the safety issues and traffic control issues.

They are fronts for other crimes. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped because a beggar used the work for food scheme to find things out. Other beggars under scrutiny in that case that the Smarts also hired were found to have stolen goods from the Smarts. In still other cases the beggar is part of a gang and is used to determine which people are carrying cash and can be mugged later.

They injure legitimate businesses by harassing customers who have come to the private property to conduct business, a case of criminal trespass. I can't count the number of times I get panhandled in grocery store parking lots, at gas stations and such, even in spite of signs from the property owners that this behavior is not allowed. To support them in those places is to reinforce bad behavior, criminal behavior (trespass, damages to the business, diverting customers from the property...). Similarly, I don't support any group that comes door-to-door. And that's my answer when they come. I don't support abusive practices. Ditto telemarketers.

And what about the legitimate ones in need? Who do beg safely and thoughtfully in consideration of others. How do you know? How do you identify them? And what is really helpful to them? A little cash donation isn't solving their problem. It often continues their degenerative cycle.

There are many issues involved in begging beyond the beggars themselves. In my opinion, your charity is better spent where you know how the money, your time and donated goods are used and where it is going.

Personal involvement in other service programs and outreach services does much more to really help those in need and helps keep the real beggars off the streets and trying to get out of their situation.

There should be controls on begging because of it's hazards and dangers to innocents trying to help. Education of the public is important. The fine probably isn't the best tool, but it is some sort of education/deterrent to well meaning folks. And for the record, it is a policy of law in general that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Joined Sep 19, 2003
If you see a dog, running loose outside, you can call a number and someone will come; get the dog; take it to a shelter where it will be washed, fed, and checked for diseases. There should be a number to call where someone would come and do the same for people!
Then, if no one claims them in seven days...

(I'm only kidding,boys and girls):bounce: :roll: :bounce: :roll: :bounce:
Joined Sep 21, 2001
Years ago I worked in downtown Portland, Oregon in a neighborhood that was full of transients. They slept in the restaurant doorways, bathroomed on the sidewalks, harrassed customers, pedestrians, each other, etc. I never give or have gave money to transients because all they will do is go buy more booze. Even as a teenager I knew that, but one day I got sucked in by a guy.
One day as I was arriving at work on a cold windy, rainy day, an old man was trying to fix his busted umbrella in this windstorm, and drenched to the bone, shivering and living outside. He looked to be in his 60's. I fixed his umbrella for him and made the mistake of starting a conversation where he proceeded to tell me his sad story, how he was out on the street due to bad luck and poor health, and had'nt eaten for a couple of days, was used to working but was just in a bad streak of life right now. Well, I bit and gave him a couple of bucks to go next door to buy a sandwich. I saw him a few minutes later coming out of the liquor store down the street with a bottle he bought with the money I gave him. So since then the only conversation I have with the homeless is to tell them where the local shelter is.....
Heres a suggestion for your politicos, CoolJ- if they must fine people for giving to the homeless, give the fine money to the local shelters and foodbanks. At least that way people know that they are REALLY helping the homeless.

At our business we save our aluminum for a local shelter who collects and gets paid for it.
Joined Nov 10, 2001
Here in London,there are thousands of homeless people who are regularly seen begging in the street.Some local authorities have obtained court orders banning beggars from their area.
How do you tell who is genuinely in need and a person who just abuses other people`s kindness?
Issuing fines may not meet with everyone`s approval,but there`s no easy answer.I wonder what percentage of these fines will be allocated to help genuine people?Is there any assurance that some of this money will not end up in some politician`s bank account?I know this sounds cynical,but it`s a possibility.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
San Francisco is a kind of Mecca for the homeless because of its well know liberal social policies. So much so in fact that all of the problems in the previous posts became unbearable. The City passed a law banning "agressive" panhandling. That is, the beggar can ask and if you say no, they can't ask again or otherwise pester you. There are other measures too that limit begging.
Homeless advocates say that homelessness is being criminalized by all these restricxtions. They argue that being homeless is not a crime. And nor is it. What is a crime is using public sidewalks as a bathroom or parks as a refuse dump which is what many homeless do. If, as a home owner I dumped my garbage on the sidewalk outside my house, I would be prosecuted for it, and rightly so. Being homeless is not a crime but neither is it a license to break the law.
I donate to charities that help homeless people and I do not give the panhandler any money - ever. I ask myself what makes this one homeless person any more deserving of my money than the other 3000 to 7000 (depending on who you talk to) homeless in the City?
Phil makes some very good points with which I agree. Homelessness is a chronic problem all across America and elsewhere. There are no simple answers but giving money to beggars is not the answer.
One local councelman proposed a care not cash initiative in SF recently. The idea is that instead of doling out welfare checks to transients, reduce the amount of the check and collect the balance to support programs for the homeless. Needless to say, homeless activists don't like that idea. They say it will further diminish their self esteem! Like begging is a real moral booster?



Joined Apr 4, 2000
If instead of giving fines to fgood samaritains they invested that money into shelters and meals the problem would probably solve itself.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
That is a pretty blanket statement. Not all homeless people are winos and druggies. Many are out there because they have no place to go. They are old and can't afford housing, they are handicapped and can't hold jobs, they have mental issues and can't cope in the "normal" world. I used to hang with a homeless guy in NYC. He always begged just outside the bar I would frequent. When I was getting ready to leave he would be there with his dog so I would go next door, to the pizza joint and buy three slices-one for me, one for him and one for his dog (named Seriously). He was a great guy, but lost a leg in Vietnam and had "mental" issues that kept him from holding down jobs and interacting "normally" on a continual basis. Other than that, he was a great guy, very knowledgeable and worldly. He opened up a whole new world to me. Sure there are all the druggies and winos but not every one is like that. There are some really great people living on the streets, either because they want to or because they have no other choice.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
That is a bit extreme but look at it this way. If you took a dollar (or whatever you were going to hand over to a homeless person) and donated it to a shelter, perhaps your dollar would go to the purchase of a blanket or the ingredients necessary to feed homeless? I don't want to generalize, but the stats prove it - alcoholism is a pretty big problem among the homeless and you don't want to finance anyone's drinking binge. Giving a homeless person a sandwich or a blanket is a much better idea. If someone tried to fine me for giving an item to a homeless person, I'd raise ****.

Better yet - take an hour or two a week and volunteer. See if they'll let you help cook.
Joined Apr 13, 2003
hey people,,, they cant fine you for feeding someone. i never give anyone with a hardluck story money,, when someone tells me they are hungry,,, i will gladly buy you some food, and yes 75%of the time they say no,,, cuz they really are just out for your money for cigarettes or a beer- but the ones that truly need help will gladly take a meal and are often some truly special people that the world left behind.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Here in the US, about a third of all the homeless are veterans. Families with children also account for a third. A quarter of the homeless population is female.

Something must go terribly wrong in a person's survival instinct for them to give up the struggle for shelter and allow themselves to be at the mercy of the elements. Many are homeless because of undiagnosed depression or other mental illness. Many have given up just because they're simply too poor. America's poor are getting poorer. The latest figures show that poverty has jumped by 17% over the last year. The middle class is showing ever increasing anxiety over their ability to provide for their family. A study this morning released this morning by the Providian Financial Group showed that a third of middle income Americans making between $25,000 and $75,000 a year are worried about their finances.

So many people live paycheck to paycheck. The average time one takes to find employment after being laid off has risen from two months to over six. Try living on unemployment if you have to raise a family. All of a sudden, the image of being on the street with your spouse and kids and the family dog is all too real.

Joined Sep 19, 2003
My grandad survived the Great Depression. At one point, he was the support for his wife and three kids, his sister and her three kids, and my Granma's younger siblings(6 boys) During a market foray, in my younger days, I saw him give money to one of the transients on the corner. "Pop. why did you give money to that dirty old wino?" " Boy, don't you say that! You don't know what makes a man what he is. Remember, there but for the grace of God, go I." No one ever went hungry from his door. He wouldn't allow you to be disrespectful to them, either.
I support a shelter in my neighborhood, and Beans and Bread across the Harbor. The shelter will accept perishables, and cooked food. Beans and Bread prefers non perishables,or casseroles. The chef at the shelter is an amazing guy. He pumps out three squares a day, plus snacks, using whatever walks in the door. Talk about Surprise basket! Does he qualify as Master chef?
There was a program here that sold tickets at various locations. The tickets were redeemable for food, or toiletries, at certain stores. They could be given to the panhandlers with no cash changing hands directly. There were flaws in the system, and loopholes, but for the most part it worked.
Donations, whether to individuals or shelters, do not resolve the real problem. Poverty and Jobleeness increase. More people are without basic needs, healthcare. I don't have an answer. But neither does George W. How do we stem the flow?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I'm not sure you can stem the flow. And I believe there are mathematical illusions that compound the problem.

Any effort to stem the flow requires the desire on the part of the beggar/homeless/whatever. For sake of this post, beggar will do. For various reasons, mental, medical, physical, these people aren't part of society as we know it. And, these sorts of people have never really been part of society as we know it. Sure, we can mention a few who have had troubles and come out of it, but statistically, that's closer to 0 than anything.

The key problem to a resolution to the issue is that these people have rights. You can't do a thing for them if they don't want to participate in it. There have always been those who don't want to participate in society in general. Lacking other resources, homeless is where many end up. By choice, even if impaired choice.

It has always been so.

Today, there are fewer cracks for these people to disappear in. There is a greater population than ever so even if the percentage of homeless hasn't changed, the number has. And when you put a large number of people into a small crack, the problem appears bigger. Never before have we been able to see and count them as well as today. This, as much as anything else contributes to the increased number of known homeless.

So it is not so much that the problem is any bigger by percentage of population (a simplification, yes), but that the sheer numbers in that population are no longer ignorable.

Even assuming money was no problem, on what basis do you force these people to accept treatment, medication, housing or any other amenity. For even though we can't help them all, so many don't even want what is available, even if it's only pride in fending for themselves rather than taking a hand out. Or up.

Indeed, there is probably a second mathematical illusion that works against them. A single person down on his luck assesses his chances for improving his lot. Yet, that same person down on his luck with a bunch of other folks often percieves his chances as much worse even though his individual chances didn't change any at all.

While I don't believe it will ever go away, that mathematical issue should not prevent us from aiding who we can and who will accept it. And by the same token, our aid should also be voluntary, and not forced.

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