I’ve blogged extensively on Milwaukee’s panhandling problem beginning last September when I wrote about my time at WUWM during the mid-1980’s. I covered a speech by Mitch Snyder at the Varsity Theater on the campus of Marquette University.
Snyder was well-known as the Hero of the Homeless.
Somewhere in my basement amidst hundreds of cassette tapes is the recording of Snyder’s speech. I don’t remember much about it to be honest. However I do recall Snyder emphatically telling the audience members that if they encountered a homeless person, by all means offer some change or a buck or two so the homeless person could at the very least get some coffee or a donut.
Thirty years after Snyder spoke here, a Milwaukee alderman proposed a crackdown on panhandlers in the city, claiming the beggars have gotten out of control.
As WUWM reported, Bob Donovan said:
“This is undoubtedly a symptom of a larger problem of disorder that we’re seeing in an increasing number of neighborhoods in Milwaukee.”
Give cash to the homeless, a la the advice of Mitch Snyder?
“These individuals are taking the money that they receive by good well intentioned citizens, I have no doubt, well intentioned citizens. They are using that money to fuel their drug habits, or perhaps their alcohol abuse.”
While panhandling is a problem, Donovan proposed legislation that was far from perfect, making it illegal to stand in a median to collect money. Anyone who does could be ticketed.
Can’t stand in a median? The panhandlers will just move over.
A ticket? Think you’ll be able to collect?
Maybe an all-out ban (as other cities have implemented) is in order. The panhandlers have gotten more aggressive, coming up to car windows pleading their case. I’ve had it happen. I see it about twice a day. I’ve also seen them confront women in their vehicles. Can’t be the happiest of experiences.
Sorry, they do look unsavory and capable of potential harm.
Will they use any donations for purposes not intended by the donors? I’m betting yes.
I’ve been told by folks they’ve seen the panhandlers at the end of their “shift” hand off their hand printed sign and bag to someone else.
There are plenty of resources available that can provide much better help than standing on a busy roadway or going up to car windows with hands out.
Another aldermanic proposal recently approved has started an education campaign called, “Keep the Change,” urging contributions to charities instead.
That idea was met with early opposition. Alderman Joe Davis argued some panhandlers could be homeless people in crisis. Really? Check out paragraph #7.
So I like “Save the Change.” I’m not sure how, if possible, donations that would have gone to the homeless are instead ending up in charities can be tracked.