Should you give money to homless people?

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Ikea Knight

Sergeant Knight
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So today, on my way to work I saw a rather sad scene.

A guy took out an old beer bottle out of a dirty garbage bin, and drank the remaining fluid.
I was a little disgusted but I mostly felt sorry.
I mean what happens in a persons life to make somebody so desperate for alcohol?

I know persons that lost everything thanks to alcoholism personally but I still can't see any of them drinking from an almost empty, dirty, old bottle.

And then I wondered if I would give that person money after seeing that. On one hand part of me thinks he is going to spend it on booze, in the other hand he probably needs money to eat.

When somebody is begging for money I try to ignore them. Not looking at them.
There was a child in a wheelchair, that sat in front of a shop for month, always greeting nicely, or there is that one man that is presenting bis mutilated, disformed feet. Ignoring them is really tough.
However, when somebody comes up to me and asks me in person, I usually give them money.
But I never feel good about that either.
I probably just give them money to get out of the situation quicker.

I once gave a beggar that ask me in front of a BurgerKing to dinner. Seeing that same person next day with a bottle of booze in the city again.
So that wasn't a nice experience either.

The thing is, I am from Germany, so we actually have welfare and in theory nobody should have to be living on the street.
For my girlfriend it is easy. She never gives money to anyone here, as in her home (Colombia) there is no welfare at all and people living on the streets don't have any other option than begging.

So what's your stance on the topic?
Have you ever feel like you helped after you donated money?
 

Adorno

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“But strangers and the poor may pluck for themselves the fruit from my tree: that causes less shame.
But beggars should be entirely done away with! Truly, it annoys one to give to them and it annoys one not to give to them.”

- Nietzsche
 
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The general wisdom seems to be that if you want to help you should buy something to eat for them or supplies of some kind. When I lived in Houston I would give out bottles of water. I almost never give cash.

I do try to avoid just ignoring them myself. It does comes natural to do that, and I have done so in the past. I guess it's a way to shield ourselves and pretend that the problem does not exist. But I have been told once by a homeless man I struck a conversation with that it is what he hated the most. He didn't mind if people did not give out money, but being completely ignored made him feel like he didn't exist and didn't matter.

One thing that I think is important to understand, is that many people are homeless for reasons out of their control. In the US it could happen to anyone. Even in other countries that offer more support for people down on their luck, often there's mental health issues involved that prevent them from looking for help. We never know what the history behind the person in front of you is, so I do my best to be kind.
 

Kobrag

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Unless you need money yourself, then yes. If someone needs to hook or shoot up in this thankless world of ours before they starve or freeze to death, then who are we to judge? I had to call for two abulances over the three months of christmas (retail worker) due to people succumbing to exposure.
You sometimes you hear the worst sories from these people, and true or not, as long as they are not pushing you you feel bad for it if you can't give.
I have seen people on the street with better degrees than my own post-grad and it sickens me. I was lucky to land a min. wage job and I can't help but see myself in these people. :c
 

kurczak

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In America sometimes. As long as they don't feed me some blatantly bull**** story about how they missed their train and now not need to get to town x because their father is in the hospital etc etc and if they're not visibly drunk or high or being a nuisance in some other way.

In Czechia rarely, if ever. Like in Knight's Germany and unlike in America, there is a strong social safety net and bambilion NGOs addressing the problem. If you are on the streets for any significant period of time, it's not the society. It's you. I feel strong contempt, bordering on hate for the certain class of beggars in the tourist parts of Prague, who prostrate themselves for hours, making themselves look humble and desperate for the tourists, who buy that vile crap and they make in a week what working class people make in a month, while making the country look like some hellhole where people have to resort to that. If you watch them for a while you can see how they are quick to remove any money from the hat/bowl so that it always appears near empty for the new victims of misplaced and hypertrophied empathy.
 

Vermillion_Hawk

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I used to believe something like that but after working with what some people would term "vulnerable populations" I lost all faith in charity to random beggars.

Especially where I live, the government provides such a wide safety net, and what gaps there are are covered by charitable organizations and churches. The only possible way for someone to end up with absolutely nothing, on the street begging for money is choice.

And I've seen people try and buy food for the "homeless" beggars, and they either put on a show of gratefulness before throwing it out or just blatantly refuse it. The people begging for money, in my experience, generally don't want or need food or shelter, what they want is a life free of responsibility, and people are still, sadly, naïve enough to support them.

Ninja'ed by kurczak.
 
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I buy them meal if they ask and I have a moment to spare to walk them somewhere (much easier ever since there's a cheap but very nice food place not far from the major malls at which I do shopping). Learnt some interesting stories that way, last time from an ex-convict that was involved in a rather loud case that happened in my city when I was just a kid. You have to take those with a grain of salt, of course, but still.

I try to restrict myself from giving them money, sometimes you feel an urge to do that just so that they **** off when they're pushy. Most obnoxious example I've ever seen was woman kneeling by sidewalk, shoving her children under people's feet and begging for money for bread when she had badly concealed bag of groceries with donuts spilling out of it by her side.

I do miss the Old Station in Katowice, those are some of my best memories from university days. The group living there was just a different breed, you wouldn't find "normal" homeless there. One dude was followed by flock of students like some kind of beggar Jesus because you could debate with him for hours. It was harder to find someone willing to go on about mathematics, but you could find those there as well every now and then. My favourite sci-fi-ish thriller book was set in that community and author spent months living among them to write it, it's surreal how organic it feels when you read it. Lots of city charm was lost when they rebuilt whole thing and not only because unique architecture was obliterated that day.
 

Tibertus

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I've bought food when the situation has looked legit to me, though it's hard to tell. When I've gotten food for a homeless person, I'll put money in the bag with the food, like a five or ten dollar bill. If they're truly hard up, they'll actually eat the food and notice the money and hopefully do something good with it. If they aren't actually hard up, they'll probably throw away the food and the money with it.
 

Moose!

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I serve dinner and clean up afterwards for a local homeless shelter 2-3 times a year. In America, it's definitely an interesting and humbling mix of people who end up homeless.
 

Doctor_Noob

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I live in Arizona it gets hot enough for heatstrokes during the summer, if you don't have water but at the same time the city has a huge drug problem where I live I can go behind any gas station or group of buildings and there is guys sticking needles in there arm. But as everyone also already said give them water or food but never money. Also its very easy to get water just go up to any building and there should be a water tap or something and just use that to get water. But people still die here every year from heatstroke.
 

Adorno

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When I visit poor countries I might give to old people and handicapped, since they have no/little chance of making money.
Younger people, especially children, should not be given anything since they will quickly learn begging is more profitable than anything else within their limited options.
Also, addicts will get their drugs by any means. Giving them anything just means they have (more) money for drugs. No point in trying to avoid supporting their drug use.
 

Bromden

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My problem with giving money to beggars is the total lack of gratitude from most of 'em. It's not like my coins worth so much that they should be obliged to follow me around and kiss my ass clean after I take a ****, but if someone asks for help and I provide it, however little it is, I'd expect at least a honest "thank you". Most of them are about as grateful for my coins as a faulty vending machine. That can be insulting when I have about as much money as he has in his cup and I still give 'em some.

But I still try to treat them as humans. I look 'em in the eye and decide if they honestly need assistance or they are just working and I'm the next mark in their way. This method works well for not feeling awful about those I didn't help.

Random people giving 'em food is not that common here, because there are a bunch of charities handing out free food in the city (foremost the Krishna people). Many homeless are even dressed better than me thanks to said charities.
 

Zombie Warrior

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Many homeless are even dressed better than me thanks to said charities.
Maybe YOU should try going around town begging with a cup :lol:

Never gave anything to the homeless. No plan to either. I give food to the charities when they come to collect it and I get rid of clothes which no longer fit my fat ass to good wills. But directly interacting with beggars? All they do with your money is buy cigarettes and perhaps, on a good day, use that money to drug themselves. I've seen many of them in the cold nights of october still, on all fours collecting used cigarettes on the street. They don't even look at you, they just see your shoes and ask for money while continuing what they are doing.
 
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Bromden

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Maybe YOU should try going around town begging with a cup :lol:
The time may yet come for that.

All they do with your money is buy cigarettes and perhaps, on a good day, use that money to drug themselves.
Well, of course, that's what money is for. But seriously, what else do you expect them to do with the money they collect? If food and shelter (however shoddy) is secured, the next step is to make themselves forget about their sorry state as much as possible. They can't really pile up that money so they can buy a car or a flat or something. Many homeless don't have qualms about stealing from each other. A few years back here a guy got his skull smashed in with a brick for his new-ish sleeping bag that someone gave him that day. No home of your own means no safety. Try piling up money enough for even a small rent in such circumstances. If you have zero existence, the effort needed to build one is much, much bigger than if you have at least a small but legit hole to live in. And if a proper life is seemingly out of reach, your goals will shift to the next best thing, as in making your current life at least sufferable, and substance abuse is the most available way for that.
 

Anarion

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If some poor guy asking for money uses it to buy a beer or some cigarettes, good for him. If you think he could instead just do some prudent investments and escape poverty, bing bang boom, you are a moron.
 

Anarion

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Just invite me, I didn't have a smartphone for about two years and now I have one again.
 

Bromden

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But you let who go? Who knows what? Who is scary?

Why do people think that this is a good place to release a fart?