Thursday, February 16, 2017

4 Tips to Combat Roanoke Pandhandlers

You're driving through Roanoke and you come to a stop at an intersection, maybe its Tanglewood, on 460 near the Walmart Neighborhood market or near the airport, being solicited for money often sparks uncomfortable feelings in all of us. You want to help, but you also worry about how the money will be used and whether you’re just enabling panhandlers, which is a term used for those who solicit money or goods. Ready to feel like you’re making a positive difference the next time a panhandler approaches you asking for help? Here’s how to respond.

1. Don’t give cash

Giving cash is not a good solution, even if that’s what a panhandler is asking for. This doesn’t mean you can’t help; it just means cash isn’t the answer. Unfortunately, well-intended cash gifts often end up being used for drugs and alcohol. A report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that six out of 10 homeless survey respondents admitted having problems with alcohol or drugs within 25 miles of the Roanoke Valley. Roughly 60% here in our valley, thats low compared to the national average. Rather than handing out cash, buy them something instead. If they’re hungry or thirsty, buy them a sandwich and something to drink. Are they looking for money to ride the bus? Rather than handing them a dollar, get them a ticket instead. If they are in real need they will gladly accept it.

2. Donate to organizations

Giving to panhandlers only discourages them from seeking out services that can actually give them the assistance they need. Rather than give to one individual, put that money toward a donation to an organization that has made it its mission to help others.

Here in the Roanoke Valley, there are lots of non-profit organizations as well as churches that help with these issues. Check out a list of places you can donate too.

3. Encourage the homeless to get help

The next time someone asks you for money, suggest the person visit a local organization that provides shelter and help for the homeless, or perhaps even a church that has been known to take in those in need. Let them know these places are free nearby that can provide shelter, food, and a place to sleep. Want to go the extra mile? Purchase a bus ticket for someone who expresses interest in visiting a shelter so they have a concrete way of getting there.

4. Take precautions

This isn’t the case for all panhandlers, but some who approach you asking for something are living on the streets because they’re either criminals or fugitives. This doesn’t mean you should assume anyone who asks for money is going to hurt you, but it is okay to be cautious. Always make sure you’re speaking with panhandlers in areas where other people can see you. You certainly don’t need to follow them into a deserted area to hear their story.

Over the last year, there have been a huge increase in panhandling right here in the Roanoke Valley and it's getting worse with an increase in more affordable drugs like heroin have started to become more main stream. Not all panhandlers are drug addicts and not all are bad people but there is a large amount of those right here in our city that take advantage of real people in real need.

Roanoke is slowly becoming a city known for being friendly, clean and historical to one that is becoming littered with those hoping that they can tug at your heart for a few bucks if not more.

1 comment:

  1. Many homeless will not eat prepared food that's given to them, for their own safety. They don't know if it's been laced with something, if it's been left in the car all day and spoiling, if it got sneezed on, etc. (Most people are good, but face it, some are assholes.) Packaged food and gift cards to restaurants within the immediate area are more sure bets.



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