Actually, I live and work downtown, so I have a fair amount of interaction with the homeless.
Today, one of the homeless complimented me on my suit (and didn’t ask me for money).
I had the same thing happen last week, twice. The homeless like my style.
A few months ago, a homeless person asked me for money. When I declined he told me he hoped I burned in Hell. I have a complicated relationship with the homeless.
I’d say it’s a love/hate relationship, but it’s more like a “I-like-your-style/hope-you-burn-in-Hell relationship.”
Having given the issue of how to respond to panhandlers much thought and prayer, here is where I come down on the issue. There are generally three types of homeless people I come across downtown: 1) those with mental problems; 2) those who don’t want any responsibility and want to live on the streets; and 3) those who don’t want to be on the street but have lost a job or had some other tragedy that has left them homeless.
The problem is I can’t help group #1, and I can’t tell the difference between group #2 and group #3. So, rather than give them money we support the Christian homeless shelter downtown. They know the homeless, know the difference between those in group #2 and group #3, and know how to truly help them. In short, they are closer to the problem and better able to solve it. And, by giving the homeless money out of ignorance I may actually perpetuate the problem.
So, I will continue to support the homeless shelter, who help the homeless, who like my style. GS