Notices

San Francisco panhandlers

Old Jul 25th, 2005, 02:13 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 317
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
San Francisco panhandlers

Just returned from my 6th trip to SF in the last 20 years. This trip we were particularly appalled @ the number of panhandlers downtown. NY has eradicated this problem to such an extent that I had forgotten how annoying it is.
NativeNewYorker is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 03:38 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,586
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We were in SF two weeks ago and heard so much about the panhandlers there. Yes, they were there, but not so much that it interfered with the enjoyment of our trip.

It is true that you don't see this around Manhattan like you used to. You can say NY eradicated it, or you could say that these people were forced to go elsewhere.
karens is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 06:41 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,916
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Seattle has the same issue currently. It is a huge social problem, much more than simply being "annoying" to the tourists IMO.
suze is online now  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 06:58 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 4,181
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I live in Manhattan and there are plenty of "panhandlers" here, but they are almost always encountered sitting quietly on the sidewalk -- shall I say "respectful" panhandlers?

In downtown San Francisco, in contrast, many/most of the beggars are intrusive and rude -- they get in your face. I've asked before, Why is this aggressive invasion tolerated?


(I just returned from 5 nights in San Francisco. I stayed in Marina/Cow Hollow and encountered zero panhandlers in that area. And I love San Francisco -- but the rude begging is a problem.)
Gekko is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:00 AM
  #5  
Kal
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,489
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you don't like aggressive panhandlers, stay away from Sacramento's K St Mall!

SF is a walk in the park compared a to a stroll down K St. sometimes.
Kal is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:34 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 396
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wouldn't call our panhandlers aggressive in the sense that one would fear for one's safety. They are sometimes aggressive in their intruding on other's space and being blatant.

I usually answer a requested panhandler with a "Sorry, but no."

Whatever you do, don't be an enabler by providing money for a future drug/alcohol binge. It perpetuates the problem. The truly compassionate thing to do is not to give money.
SFImporter is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 11:42 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Native, so did you drop a couple of quarters?

The locals don't give cash, only the tourists. Get rid of the tourists, I say, and there will be no problem!
FainaAgain is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 12:32 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,120
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I simply tell them either, "No", or that I've been using plastic to pay for everything. I've never met a beggar with a card swipe machine.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 01:20 PM
  #9  
JJ5
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I had one actually grab my arms in a doorway in SF. I'm not a big person, and I initially got spooked, but faced him straight on. He didn't easily let go. And I NEVER have any problems saying no. But I didn't like that he could get away with that behavior, seemingly repeatedly.

My guy is no spring chicken and he went John Wayne eyed, so confronting the panhandler was not my primary problem that night. He promptly said "get a job" and several other things not as nice that I would not type here.

And right after (merely hours later) we were lucky enough to hit the Bush Man. And by then I was starting to worry about my guy starting an assault.

Honestly, it was the biggest turn off I have ever encountered in traveling.

We have always had minimal panhandling in Chicago. Bums go where there is better weather. The gutter sleeping alcoholics on Madison Ave. West have been gone for 15- 20 years now.

We had some problems in the O'Hare tunnels in winter. Many homeless are mentally ill, but some case studies show that some of these most successful panhandlers are not homeless by any means.

I hear they are starting to show in the Water Tower area. But our police would never tolerate the numbers and behavior I witnessed in SF.
JJ5 is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 01:48 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I find panhandlers are less annoying if I keep in mind that I have no obligation to speak to people I don't know. However, I usually greet their requests with "Good Morning," "Hello," "Hi There," or some such.

I lived in NYC for thirty years and moved out in 1990 shortly after a panhandler grabbed me by the arm at 10:00 a.m. at 56th Street and Avenue of the Americas and spoke to me in an intimidating tone.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 04:37 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I do not make eye contact or give any response to panhandlers. So far I have not had any problems although I sure have felt annoyed at times. I can get a very grouchy look on my face when necessary which seems to work.

Please don't give money to panhandlers, it only encourages them. There are charities one can donate to if they feel they would like to help out.

SF many years ago started paying a welfare check to the homeless which from everything I have heard was the largest in the US. Then add in the more or less pleasant weather and the word got out.

And so liberal/tolerant SF has a problem they do not know how to fix.

It is important to know what areas to stay out of, especially after it starts getting dark.

LoveItaly is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 04:50 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 15
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A request to everyone in the United States:

Please remember that many panhandlers are not just nuisances. They are human beings deserving of compassion. Families are suffering with them: a mother, a father, siblings and maybe even children.

Many are mentally ill. Many are drug-addicted. Many chose the street to escape abusive situations at home. Had they come from well-off families they'd probably have made it to rehab or a mental health facility. Unfortunately not everyone is that lucky.

I have been bothered by panhandlers, both at home and on vacation. I feel guilty for having so much when they have nothing.

I am not an American, but I have visited many US cities and find your treatment of the poor appalling. These people have no way out. Where are the social programs to help?

I cannot comprehend how so many people ignore those in the Fourth World so easily. Shuttling people to the poorest neighbourhoods for the convienience of the rich does nothing to solve the underlying issues. Where is the humanity?


Sincerely,

A Canadian wishing for a kinder world.

rainforest is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 04:54 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 35,979
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I give 'em loose change sometimes..depends on the situation. I really try not to be judgemental and I go through the gamet of emotions from feeling sorry for them, fron disgust, from "get a job you creep", to wondering what brought them to this end. I always look at them and try to imagine them as a baby and what happened in between. And yes, some of them can be pretty scary. I also know some are fakes, a lot are alcohol and drug addicted. So, anyway, I've always been a "soft touch" if the circumstances are right. I remember as a little kid shopping with my granparents in Portland, asking my gramdma if I could give some money to a guy that was panhandling. I actually think she gave him a quarter or something like that. Probably would NOT have if I hadn't asked her to. LOL
crefloors is online now  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:06 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, rainforest! I appreciated your message very much.

Some of problems of the homeless date back to the Reagan era where a lot of the mentally ill were no longer to be treated as a public health problem and, more in the spirit of Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" solution for the starving poor, they were let loose on the streets.

Personally I can remember a past when there were NO homeless on the streets of San Francisco.

Along with the mentally ill there were a lot of single moms with very young children. I have never gotten over the shock of seeing a busy SF financial district square completely covered with homeless bodies when night approached.

Not all of the homeless are drug addicts or winos.

It has always been very puzzling to me that many Americans turn their faces away from those who need help the most: the mentally ill and the single mothers. I, too, have asked: "Where are the humantarians in this supposedly "Christian" nation?"

Do I give money to the homeless? Every time. Why? Because of a single thought: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." God has blessed me; to what purpose should money be hoarded - a bigger house, a better car? A nation a billion times richer than Midas refuses to take care of its weaker citizens, but wants to cut more social programs.

"Where is the humanity?" Bravo, a question well asked.
easytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's absolutely true that some panhandlers are quite capable of getting the help they need in other ways - either by approaching agencies that can help them, or by getting real work. However, please be aware that as other people have pointed out, many of these folks are struggling with problems that you and I can only guess at.
Years and years ago - the late 50's and early 60's, more or less - psychiatry progressed to the point that there was medication available to effectively treat psychosis. The down side of that was that they essentially opened the doors of the psychiatric hospitals and sent everyone out to "live in the community" - a community that didn't want them and had no resources in place to look after them. Many of them found accommodation with neglectful, exploitive, or even abusive landlords and ended up in far worse situations than the hospitals would have been. We still err on the side of not providing enough for the mentally ill in terms of community supports or even - and I only feel comfortable saying this because I've been working with them for more than 30 years - keeping them in hospitals because only there can they be encouraged to do things like eat properly and keep themselves clean. Very often the community doesn't take on those responsibilities, understandably enough. Some of these individuals end up on drugs or booze because it's so easily available and provides the illusion of short-term relief. It's not a simple issue. I feel sad when I see panhandlers, and occasionally give them something. I don't like aggressive behaviour any more than anybody else does, but I don't necessarily think that giving somebody a few bits of change "encourages" them. They don't need encouragement. They do this stuff despite frequent and often physical "discouragement" from people on the street.
Meesthare is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2005, 08:53 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think that one thing that everyone does not understand is that a lot of us who do not pass out money here or there to panhandlers do not do so because the money usually goes for drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. My late DH offerred so many people the opportunity to have him buy them a meal and they would practically go ballistic. They obviously did not want money for food.

Now, a lot of us do try to help those in need. We donate money to charities such as the SF Chronical's Season of Sharing each year. The money is used to help those in need rebuild their lives. Sort of along the lines of rather then giving a man a fish so he can eat for a day teach him to fish so he can eat for a lifetime.

Many donate to places like St. Anthony's Kitchen which does a fantastic job of feeding the needy.

It seems that some here think because money is not passed out on the street that one has a cold and uncaring heart.
Or that one is too selfish to care about others because they are so busy spending money on "stuff".

It is never smart to assume that you know what other people do to help others. Many do not like to announce what they donate as they feel that is more or less like bragging.

Furthermore there are many of us that donate money at various times of the year to buy items like blankets/pillows/stuffed toys so that foster children will have their own items. Their is a local organization in my city that help single mothers and their children get back on their feet and it is amazing how many donations they receive. I just gave a new microwave for a single mother with two little ones. I could go on an on what I and my family and my friends do.

Sorry if I sound like I am lecturing but although I don't feel like I have to defend my actions I do feel it is good to give others something to think about. Best not to assume about things unless you have the facts. Best regards to all who care about those in need.

LoveItaly is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2005, 06:06 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,647
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, some are not really homeless, but panhandling because it's easier than working a 'real' job.

But I do know a woman in her late 70's who has a son (in his 50's) that's schitzophrenic (not sure if I spelled that right). She can get him committed into a treatment facility. He gets medicated and is ok. Then he is released because he's on his medicine and is doing ok. Outside of the hospital, he gets off his medicine and things go downhill fast. Then the mom has to get him committed again.

And the circle goes on and on.

She won't be around forever and maybe her health will go so she can't get to the courthouse and start the commitment procedures.

She does her best, but one day she won't be around and what will happen to her son? Probably out on the streets. And who knows what will happen when he's off his medicine for a long period of time.
ncgrrl is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2005, 08:44 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Where are the social programs to help?" - they are there, I know. My family of 4 (husband, 2 small children) came to San Francisco with virtually no posessions, we went through the Welfare system, and I can tell from my own experience - they do help. Education for kids and adults, adequate nutrition, rent, medicine - all taken care of.

But this was managable under one condition: if the parents are clean. So for us it was no problem, we were poor, but learning and moving up. The next door neighbours's children from the same former soviet union suffered because parents drank, smoked, had late night parties.

"Where is the humanity?" - I guess in the laws. Does any of you know that any mental person, even a schyzophrenic, can't be taken to a hospital for a treatment unless somebody PROVES he is a danger to himself or others? So if somebody is not attacking another person with a knife, s/he will not get treatment even if his immidiate family suffers. Example: a guy set parents' home on fire, only after that they took his to a hospital. Insurance will cover few days, then what?

People with mental problems get hooked on drugs and alcohol much faster then the healthy ones. To get treatment they must seek treatment themselves. I'm afraid there is a long wait for those few who want to stay sober.

I wish I knew how to solve. Until then - no cash hand-outs, only checks in the mail.
FainaAgain is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2005, 09:03 AM
  #19  
JJ5
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, FainaAgain. I refrained from answering that question because I know "too much" to relate in any meaningful way to someone like rainforest. I haven't the gift anymore.

If you are on the front lines of this and I have been for many, many years- but no longer- then you would know that there are MANY resources out there who work with this population extensively and at great costs to themselves.
JJ5 is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2005, 09:44 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 415
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One of the biggest problems with our welfare system is that the people that really need help are much too sick to navigate the system and actually get it. Most of the time, those that do get SSI/disability money are well enough to work.

I do not give panhandlers money.
Alisa is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO