Is it good to give to people on the street who ask for a handout? The Oregonian asks in their series on homelessness in Portland OR:
Panhandling, also known as “flying signs” among practitioners and “begging” among the politically incorrect, is considered legal free speech in most parts of the country. Courts have repeatedly defended panhandling as a First Amendment right, as long as it doesn’t turn overly aggressive or interfere with traffic.
Giving a little spare change on the morning commute or coffee break can feel good for those of us who don’t volunteer or regularly donate to a soup kitchen or shelter. But the frequent sight of panhandlers also can fuel a sense that homelessness is everywhere, or that the community’s generous nature encourages transients to flock here. On sunny afternoons, it’s common for all four corners of Pioneer Courthouse Square to be occupied by people seeking spare change.
As part of our ongoing series examining homelessness in Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive asked advocates for the poorest of the poor whether they give to panhandlers and what they’d advise the rest of us. The answers, sampled below, include a not-quite unanimous no and a few words of warning.
Read it all here.
Image: By Ivaan Kotulsky via Toronto History from Toronto, Canada (Man panhandling) CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
posted by Ann Fontaine