Diane Larson and 13 ABC did a special on the growing epidemic of panhandling in Toledo - I think it aired this evening. As a long time resident and homeowner in Toledo I have long been a critic of vagrants loitering in my neighborhood and panhandling. There is no mention of any local churches reaching out to the panhandlers which I still find curious. I thought the news article and video were worth sharing and interesting no matter which side of the aisle you are on regarding this issue.
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Saw the usual suspect at the BP on Talmadge/Sylvania while fueling up. I do not see it going away, only worse.
Detroit is really a problem, but at least thy have some original lines and humor
The story was pretty good and informative. The make-believe banter between Diane Larson and Lee afterwards was about as phony as it gets.
I'll still help, but if I catch them at the end of the day loading up a nicer car than mine, I won't.
Just an update. Last summer we tried to give a job to "Scotty", the local self stated homeless guy. He would do very well at taking out trash, picking up garbage, etc, for about $20 in less than 2 hours. Every time he was there, he would have some story about needing more money. From his electricity being turned off, to his bicycle flat tire, etc, he always asked. Sometimes I'd give in.
This year I decided not to give in. I also changed his "pay" to $5/hour cash. He worked one day for about 1 hour. Did not do as good of a job as he did last year and I let him go.
He still stops by and asks for money, but I don't give it to him anymore.
My understanding is on an average day those shysters can rake in anywhere from $200 to $500 sitting at an intersection for a day. If everyone would stop giving money, they'd eventually stop standing there - which we know will never happen.
Hockeyfan, I meant to tell you that a few months ago, my boyfriend and I encountered your "Scotty" in the parking lot of Home Depot on Secor. He asked us if we knew of any other gas stations besides the ones on that intersection and rambled about all the stations he'd been to... then said something about his wife being at St. Anne's... and then FINALLY, asked us for a couple dollars. My boyfriend has been known to give panhandlers in Detroit his spare change, but he said afterward that this guy's story was so confusing, even if he'd had cash he wouldn't have given it to him.
Valbee, yes, Scotty is the master of stories. From his wife being pregnant in the hospital, or on the way to the hospital, to not eating for days, etc., he has truly made it an art form. Good for your boyfriend to recognize Scotty's confusing collection of babble.
I have no problem helping someone in need. I don't think anyone wants to contribute to a scammer. Knowing the difference is the real trick. I think if people ask these people the simple questions, it might help stop the scammers. But, still, some of these people are professionals and know how to pull on your heart strings.
That's the thing, they all have stories. Everybody's got a sick wife or they got laid off or their car broke down 5 blocks down or some other bullshit. Go take a shower and apply at a fast food joint if you really want a job.
On top of that, get rid of the Cherry St. Mission and the soup kitchen down the street from it. It's the same people there day after day, month after month, year after year. They're nothing but enablers.
I have a funny story about "Scotty." He hit me up TWO DAYS IN A ROW in a parking lot off Secor with crazy stories. The first day I ignored him. The second day I confronted him about the fact that he has approached me with a much different conflicting story the day before. He needs to try a different part of town for a bit!
There's one who has staked out the underpass at I-75 and Phillips. He was even out all day a few months earlier, on a day that was about 5-6 degrees. He sometimes has a broom, and keeps the island swept clean. I give him a little money once in a while.
There is no mention of any local churches reaching out to the panhandlers which I still find curious.
Churches generally busy themselves helping people who actually need it, not the scammers who hold up "Will Work 4 Food" signs. And most times, they do it without press attention...
The "exceptions" I guess would be places like St. Paul's or the Cherry St. Mission, but I tend to think the news crews head down their for a quick 30 second sound-bite on Xmas day because it's an easy story, not because those places are putting out press releases saying "Look at us! We're so great!"
Bless all of you who have tried to reach out, but the ones that need help are not the one's holding those signs at shopping centers. I believe the true homeless would never dream of doing that. They like to remain hidden...not bothered.
Once in a while I'll pass a buck or two to a beggar, other times not. I feel sorry for the mentally ill who have no place to go and can't fend for themselves.
idinspired, you are crazy if you think any of them are making anywhere near 200 dollars a day.
Yeah, $200 to $500 a day is not happening in Toledo. I remember an article many years ago stating that the average panhandler in NYC make $82k a year. Believeable there, but not in Toledo. I could see $80 to $100 a day though.
Idk, I live near the mall and the Panhandlers at the corner at BP are always getting money from people. I was filling up one time and watched while cars came and went with three different red lights. Each time he ran to a car that was giving him money.
If those were $5 bills or even a few dollars. Each red light is around 2 to 3 minutes a part. Say about 20 light switches an hour. I could see him being handed money half the time or 10 lights. 20-50 dollars an hour even around here wouldn't be such a far reach. I could see him making 100 to 250 dollars in a five hour window. Definitly possible and not crazy.
If they weren't making decent money, they wouldn't be there everyday. If they were only getting a couple people giving them 2 bucks for all day, they would move on to another location.
There is one way to verify what they make. Someone don't shave for about a week, put on some old clothes and stand there to find out. Donate the money to something afterward, but at least we would know.
If I see an older panhandler and I have a couple $1 mcd burgers in the car, I sometimes will toss one to the guy. I have been known to place a few cans of food and unwanted used clothing at particular spots in North Toledo that I know bums frequent.
You keep $1 mcd burgers in your car?
justphillips - I'm also in that area frequently and see the same thing. I was going to respond that it would be a very conservative guess that they get ten handouts an hour and probably average $2-$3 dollars per handout (again conservative because you know they get the occasional $10 or $20) but let's say $2.50 per handout x 10 handouts an hour.
$25 an hour x 5 hours "Work" is $125. More pay then a teacher I suppose...
I mentioned on Toledo Talk last year my efforts and reason for trying to have this halted in the city - namely that at your city's flagship shopping mall it is extremely unattractive to businesses we are trying to attract and shoppers we draw from surrounding areas to have panhandlers on a corner approaching cars. (Call me heartless but I think that banishing this activity shows more concern for the hard working families in our city) Also, as a homeowner I think it is terrible to have loiters panhandling in my neighborhood.
All that said the city is understandably in a bind. If they pass an ordinance that restricts this activity they will have their hands full in a costly battle with the ACLU - and what elected official wants a six figure court battle highlighted in the Blade each day?
The news report that I originally linked did address the problem but few people and citizens will speak truthfully about these matters. Nobody wishes to appear heartless, especially on camera but it is my belief that the most heartless thing a person can do "though well intentioned" is to give to a person who has their hand out - it absolutely robs that person of dignity. My moral compass would rather lead me to a good family business in the area that provides a good service and enlist their services with my hard earned cash.
A sample from the ACLU website below.
I have a few cans of stale beer in my fridge that are nearly 3 years old. If I remember, when I head downtown later this evening, I'll place them in one of those empty Carty flower pots.
It has been said before on this site that the surest way to curb the behavior is for people to stop being patsies to every con artist and panhandler that comes along. I hate to sound hard-hearted, but giving handouts to panhandlers is like feeding stray cats: sure, they get a meal now, but they keep coming back, and the "niceness" people show actually makes the problem worse.
There are plenty of legitimate ways to donate and help the truly needy, and the $5 you toss some panhandler (who might very well have an addiction problem) would be better spent by groups like the Cherry Street Mission, the United Way, or the Volunteers of America.
On a side note: years ago I used to busk in downtown Toledo when I was an impoverished undergrad and needed gas money (circa 2000, post-pizza business). I would take my guitar and sing at lunch time in places like Edison Plaza, and I could make $15-$20 an hour if there was decent foot traffic and the weather was clear (or, better put, if I didn't suck too much). I doubt that panhandlers make much more than this, since a friendly busker has to be seen as less threatening than some mooching schlep at a gas station, although the smoother con artists with heartbreaking stories might get the occasional sucker to toss them a $10 or $20 bill. You will not get rich by panhandling, but it has to be worth at least $10 an hour for these folks to be standing out there.
I'm sorry. I know I'm going to get stomped for my comments, but I can't help it. After reading so many judgmental, self-righteous, smug remarks, I just have to say how great it would be if fewer of you -- no, fewer of us -- were so judgmental, self-righteous, and smug.
For me, it's pretty simple: Showing compassion is what I am commanded to do. Period. It's not for me to judge whether anyone "deserves" a handout, or whether they're crazy or lazy or just a motherfreakin' drain on society.
Do what you like. Take video of beggars and post it on YouTube (as had once been discussed in another, similar thread) with the hopes of humiliating and shaming the askers. Challenge folks with their hands out to "prove" they need "legitimate" help, not just a cold 40. Turn your back on another who professes need in the self-satisfied confidence that you are nothing like "those people." But my God says I am to show compassion, especially to the poor and marginalized and socially shunned -- period. And so I do, and will. Even when I don't want to or when it's not convenient.
(Sidebar: If you're standing along a highway off-ramp or wandering around a parking lot asking for money, don't you have, you know, a demonstrable problem right there?)
I would never speak so strongly without the shield of anonymity. If we were all sitting around a table together, I'd say all this far more gently. But Jesus, people! Believe me when I say: There but for lucky happenstance and/or for the grace of God goes ... you.
So... even if you knew that a panhandling addict was going to take the cash you give him and go around the corner to buy some heroin or crack, you would be OK with that, luvtoledo?
I am not being sarcastic; I am genuinely interested in your thoughts. I am extremely compassionate, and I regularly donate my time and money to local charities and non-profit groups. Yet I have seen far too many panhandling scammers posing as "needy" to simply hand over my cash to someone who could be working like the rest of us.
Now, when I see the one-legged panhandler who sometimes is at the freeway off-ramp to Corey Road from eastbound I-475, sure: I can see that this individual probably has had a tough lot in life. And when I saw the legless beggars in Madrid and Portugal when I traveled to those cities two years ago, I coughed up quite a few Euros. However, when I see an able-bodied person with a sign, or (worse) when some pushy scam artist comes to me at the gas station with one of the same worn-out stories ("I ran out of gas" or "I need money to get back to Florida" or "my children are starving"), I refuse to contribute to the problem.
Re: "there but for the grace of God" - in 1999 I was flat broke after losing every nickel I ever saved in my old business empire. No job, no investments, nothing but a used car and my house (which, by the way, was so heavily double mortgaged that the bankruptcy judge laughed when the sole creditor at the hearing suggested foreclosure, since there would have been no equity to parcel out). Did I go on the dole, or shake down people at a gas station, or stand with a sign at the corner begging for cash? Nope: I worked a series of crappy jobs, and I went back to school to get my BA, then my MA, and finally my PhD. No food stamps, no welfare, no handouts: just busting my arse to better my life. As I mentioned, I even busked a few times when I needed gas money or a few bucks to carry me over to payday. I worked in a factory, I waited tables, tended bar, delivered pizzas, freelanced as a writer, sold blog ads, and every year scraped $25-$30K together from a lot of 7-day work weeks.
And you know what? I am a stronger and more resourceful person by tasting poverty, and it made me more frugal and a better saver. In the decade from 1989-99, when we had some very good years in business, my wife I saved about half as much money than we did from 2000-2010, when we actually made about 30 percent less money. Even today, when I am employed full-time at one university and have three other part-time teaching/consulting jobs, I drive a 16-year-old Hyundai. One of the reasons I am reluctant to purchase a new car is simply the prior experience of being broke: I know that the best defense against unexpected tough times is to have sh'loads of ready cash saved up. When our roof needed to be replaced two years ago, we simply went to the savings and paid cash. When we need another used car, we just shop around and buy the farker: no banks, no auto financiers, just good old-fashioned savings.
So while I have a great deal of empathy for people on hard times, I also know that hard work still pays off, and there is no better character-building behavior than enduring some poverty. Also, the fastest way out of poverty is to get off your arse, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and make something happen.
Thats great that you could do that HM, but alot of people begging are not all there mentally. People are free to do what they want with their own money. I gave a buck to lasy last night collecting for an organization I was unsure of. But, I was on my way home in a car that runs to grill some food and enjoy my night. I considered myself blessed enough to give her a dollar and let her do with it what she will. Its out of my hands at that point. Hopefully it did somebody good.
There's no better way to get your self-righteous Christian message across than finishing it by taking the Lord's name in vain.
History Mike - Good work and a great example. Your type of "fight" is what I love to hear about and it encourages me at a time when I hear so many people in neutral waiting for the Government or the economy to turn their life around.
luvtoledo - I understand your beliefs, in fact I have shared that exact belief over the years. However, over the years my belief has changed and I now consider that Christian philosophy (in most cases - not all) an actual contributor to the problem. At it's core taking away the dignity that a man earns through work by "giving" to that man "for nothing exchanged" creates a terrible dependence that is contrary to the way of life God intended - IMO.
I see Detroit as an example where people learned not to rely on their own God given strengths and abilities - sometimes for political persons, sometimes for charitable reasons. In the end, the man who did not learn to stand on his own feet suffers the most.
I didn't go into detail on this post because it would have been redundant as I have mentioned it in other posts but I also have a spiritual compass. Much like historymike mine has evolved by similar personal experience. For me, it was addiction. At the age of 21 years old I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver because of my lifestyle. I "took action" and I "made a change."
The people at the time who I would have considered "Self righteous, smug and judgmental" were the ones in hindsight who probably loved me the most. Those who were afraid to hurt my feelings by telling me the truth or enabling me were serving their own co-dependent nature or other wrong purpose - maybe even well intentioned. I had to come to that point where I had more to lose if I continued then if I quit.
In the end I do not believe that my God ever intended me to be another Man's keeper nor would ever require another man to be responsible for me. In essence that is a form of bandage and slavery.
Apologies in advance for the long reply, but then, it's a serious subject that merits thought.
There was an interesting piece on the WSJ website Monday, reporting that nearly half of all Americans say they would be unable to come up with $2,000 cash in 30 days. The WSJ said this report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, underscores just how many Americans are "financially fragile." That's amazing to me, that so few of us could pull together what is, in essence, not much cash. (Remember, we're all supposed to have been adding to our emergency household reserves in reaction to these recent years' meltdown. Key words here: "adding to.")
@ History Mike: Bully for you, for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps in the face of adversity. And bully for you, for recognizing that a cash-based, simple lifestyle yields more than enough. Since you made a point of recounting your financial situation, I feel obliged to do similar in order for you to take my comments seriously: I, too, use only cash. I have lived well beneath my means for many, many years. My mortgage was paid off in under 10 years. I save like squirrel in November, and have multiple, well-diversified instruments. My net worth is much higher than anyone would expect, and yes, I also make charitable contributions, of both money and time.
Bully for me, too, then, right?
Your response suggests a "yes, BUT..." framework of this issue. Mine is more of a "yes, AND..." approach. You and I are set. We did it ourselves. Yay us! More people should be like us: self-reliant, full of initiative and drive and resolve. Those who can work and support themselves, of course, should. No argument there.
But a few key factors have changed significantly in the time you and I have made self-sufficient, full lives for ourselves. For one, the income gap between haves and have-nots has grown like kudzu. Another, of course, is the latest recession, which put an awful lot of people in the sort of financial precariousness I don't think they ever expected or, more to the point, deserved to have ever expected. For a third point, add to that our geographic location -- hard-hit manufacturing town in a nation where little is made anymore, overshadowed by a sputtering auto industry -- and, man, we are hurting. Also, let's agree that we don't need to spend much time on the disgraceful way that higher-ed tuition has far outpaced inflation. It's just harder now for people to put themselves through college, especially when job prospects are low enough to threaten an individual's ability to repay education loans. (I'll spare you my observations about the ways in which GOP policies have truly harmed higher-education prospects for so many.)
And, finally, let's be honest: There are a lot of people who, for whatever and myriad reasons (that's another day's discussion, I'll try to stay on task here), aren't as educated and/or mentally capable of performing the sorts of long-range, critical thinking that good planning and life decision-making requires.
If you are first or second or third generation-poor, "life" is rarely about your five-year plan. Under those conditions, "life" is more like, gee, what can I get for the dinner tonight, how can I get it, and how cheap can I get it? Can I make rent this month? What about utilities? That's "long-range planning" when you're impoverished. It's surprisingly time-consuming (and exhausting) to be poor.
So, can I peel off a coupla bucks when asked? No matter how shady the ask? No matter whether the asker can satisfy my criteria as to whether he "deserves" it? Yeah.
@ Danneskjold: I hear you when you talk about "so many people in neutral waiting for the Government or the economy to turn their life around." But I'd like to add that, if government cannot help the most vulnerable, than what is the point of a organizing ourselves thusly as a civil society? Surely a healthy society requires more than infrastructure investment as the basis for its being?
In the end, I do believe I'm my brother's keeper. Not the same thing as a care-taker, by the way, but yes, I believe I'm put here to be as compassionate and helpful as I can be.
Saw this today:
I'm sure the ACLU will be all over this as a violation of free speech or some other bullshit.
These "terrible" panhandlers are far less intrusive then the ones that call my phones asking for something - whether it be money or a vote. Lets get THEM out of our homes before we worry about the ones on the street you can drive right by.
The so-called panhandlers that call your home Ryan can easily be avoided. National Do Not Call registry, caller ID, etc. I'm on the DNC registry and I screen all my calls, only answering the ones from people I know. But when you're at a stoplight and can't escape and you have some drunk bum knocking on your window, well, there's no avoiding that.
i still get calls, even after registering.
you must be really cute, because I have NEVER had someone knock on my window.
There is only one credible reason to be on the streets - mental illness. There is an abundance of government agencies and private charities where all panhandlers could get aid. Those agencies and private charities do some checking on the validity of the request for assistance. Most panhandler's claims would not bear scrutiny. Hence, I give to no panhandler. The truly mentally ill refuse help and are very difficult to serve. They are the ones who need our help the most.
LOL Ryan, definitely wouldn't consider myself "cute." When I worked downtown, it happened on a regular basis not only to myself but to my co-workers as well.
i work downtown and never had anybody knock on my window.
and dont be so hard on yourself :)
Hate to repeat what I've mentioned on previous posts but concerning the panhandlers in West Toledo it is a joke. I'm out in the city very frequently and watch these guys walk behind the gas stations or around the corner to make calls on their cell phones. Only one female I've seen in West Toledo by the 475 expressway appeared to be mentally ill and she was picked up after a few hours by a younger obese man driving an old beater so she was likely being used to get money for his use. A van used to drop three guys off at varying corners around Tallmadge and 475 and they communicated by cell phones.
Michael Collins was polite in the interview above saying he was not unsympathetic to those who have fallen on hard times. I'll say it another way - "If you want your city to resemble Detroit further and further and drive away commerce and young professionals who want a nice city for their families then do nothing and let people who will not seek employment under good econonomy or bad economy panhandle on the city corners.
I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. - Benjamin Franklin
I don't agree with the ACLU on most cases but I hope they fight this and get it thrown out if it takes effect.
What about the panhandlers asking me for a signature to get their issue on the ballet or to register to vote? Can we ban them too while we are at it?
"Hesitant to give them cash for fear they may be scam artists or might use the money for something besides food or rent?"
A quick jerk on the wheel usually gets them to back off.
The Manna Bags sound interesting.
For many of the reasons others have already cited, I don't give cash to panhandlers.* But I'd consider something like the Manna Bags.
*I did make an exception recently in a not-so-good neighborhood near downtown. It was one of the hottest days of the summer. A man was walking down the street and looked unbearably warm. Asked me if I had $0.50 to spare because he was short on bus fare - said he had been on a job interview and was trying to get home. I gave him a dollar from my purse. Maybe I was scammed. (Though it was believable that he was coming from a job interview - who else would be walking down the street in long pants on a 98 degree day?) Either way, I'd rather lose $1 than have let someone continue walking in that miserable heat.
Cannot attest to how factual the story goes about President Lyndon Johnson and Sen. Barry Goldwater in a limo in Washington D.C. passing a panhandler at a corner and Johnson says to Goldwater, "You know Barry the difference between you and me and that guy is about this much: holding two fingers 1/2 inch apart. We all like to self-congratulate on our good fortunes while in the back of our minds we always know the winds of fate can emerge harsh and strong with zero ability to control the forces.Those enmeshed in a struggle are grateful for just one more day.
There's another way to get rid of them.
A few years back I saw a hidden video where some college students had a panhandler outside of their home. The city for fear of an ACLU-type lawsuit wouldn't stop it.
The students instead themselves started panhandling too. As many as 4 of them would sit where the panhandler was and would attempt to "compete" with the panhandler saying things like "Oh I'm way poorer than this guy, my car is 10 blocks away, with an empty gas tank, and flat tires" another had a sign that said "Wants to be a(really small) Homeless Veteran(really big)"
After sometime and loss of business the original panhandler left for brighter prospects at another street corner.