MyHalifaxCa – Panhandlers

Its time to deal with the problem

The Real Problem

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Panhandling is a symptom

The solutions have to include both short-term and long-term initiatives which address systemic problems associated with poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, family instability, domestic abuse, poor skill levels, low levels of education, discrimination and other forms of marginalization.

The Real Problem

Ultimately, the real issue is that the current system of social and community support is broken.

Government departments and agencies that were set up years ago during a more ‘liberal’ time have through cutbacks, restructuring and staff limitations become ineffective and limited in their ability to help all but a few of these individuals.

The challenge has been passed to the NGOs and Police Departments. The police can only be reactive in their efforts; until there is a complaint leave them alone. The NGOs just don’t have the depth or staff to be anything but spotty in their efforts. The net result is that, for the most part, Halifax’s Finest Panhandlers fall through the cracks of our social safety net.

How do we fix the Problem?

Through the course of my research for this document, I have had 100’s of suggestions as to how to best deal with the panhandlers. Some realistic approaches and some not so realistic. Everything from ‘spray them down with water & stun Gun them’ to ‘there should be a law.

The solution is somewhere in the middle.

The first step is to decide who should fix the problem. Its unfair to expect the police to act as caseworkers and its unfair to expect the caseworkers to act as police. There are a multitude of reasons that the problem exists, for every individual panhandler there is a unique set of circumstances that put him / her on the street. Therefore it follows that there are a multitude of ‘fixes’ out there for the problem.

What is needed is a coordinated, consistent, persistent, long term and well funded community approach to the whole issue of poverty, housing and job training for all marginalized individuals whether they be panhandlers or the invisible working poor.

Why say no to panhandlers?

According to studies, giving money to panhandlers does not help those in need because:

Ø Cash given to panhandlers will most likely to buy alcohol or drugs.

Ø most panhandlers are NOT homeless.

Ø for some, panhandling is a profession and studies show at times, a lucrative one.

Ø Homelessness is not the problem for truly needy panhandlers, but rather a symptom of underlying problems. They need help, not handouts. A better way to help is to donate to charities and organizations with outreach programs that truly help the homeless and needy.

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Written by lesmuise

October 28, 2008 at 12:09 am

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