Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How to Help Panhandlers in Roanoke

Hi Friends! A lot of recent attention has been shed on a recent post where we talked about Roanoke's Most Aggressive Panhandler via way of you, our FB group members. Agree or disagree with our article, we have your attention about the issue, I'd like to take a minute and talk about those with real issues, not to belittle them, but to talk about how we as a community can actually help get them off the streets.

If you click on the Donate and Help Page, you will find a wide array of organizations here in the Roanoke Valley that actually help those that need food, clothing, shelter, job services, mailing services, health and mental services and other services that might be needed.

Some of those organizations include:

ARCH Services
Rescue Mission
Family Promise of Roanoke
Salvation Army
TAP (Total Action for Progress)
RAM House (Roanoke Area Ministries)
Homeless Assistance Team of Roanoke (for Homeless not so much panhandlers)
Red Shield
Battered Women's Shelter
Family Shelter of Salem
Samaritan Inn
EHS Support Services
Blue Ridge Behavioral Services
Comprehensive Family Counseling
New Horizons
Acts 2 Ministries

If you want to truly help, one thing that you can do is volunteer. Someone that is in TRUE need will gladly be appreciative of it. Instead of donating money, donate your time to the various organizations here in the area. Many of the need volunteers to help feed the homeless, work on various projects, cleaning and to help out in general.

Another thing that we often talk about on our website is creating Blessing Bags. These are zip lock bags filled with various items, from snacks to lotions and toothbrushes and information from above that can help them. There is NO cash in these bags. Again, a TRULY NEEDY person will gladly accept them. Learn more about creating a blessing bag here.

Homeless vs. Panhandling

A common misconception among panhandling is that most are homeless. The truth is, most are NOT homeless at all, many have lifestyles that could be considered normal for the most part, with cars, smart phones, a place to live, TV, etc. If you are on the verge of panhandling for cash, I would first suggest that you cut out things that you currently can't afford in your lifestyle, like cable, cell phone, etc. and even then Roanoke has resources to help.

Those stating they are homeless while panhandling but have an apartment or home to live in are lying to you, a ploy to get you to roll down the window and hand out cash. Sadly, for many that are not educated, they give in believing they are helping for the greater good.

According to the most recent HUD report, nearly 6 out of 10 that panhandle are not homeless or 60%. Of the nearly 40% that are homeless, just 5% have been found to not have a place to sleep at night, they sleep on the streets or in their car.
The issue among Roanoke City and Roanoke County is a bit of a tricky one. See, holding a sign in challenged several larger cities such as Los Angles and Cleveland for this freedom of speech and they have won. So, Roanoke recently changed the laws to reflect the more national spotlight of panhandling.
public is perfectly legal under our first amendment rights. Recently the ACLU has

But, there is still a problem.

Those that panhandle are still breaking the law by soliciting. Roanoke's code states that soliciting is illegal unless they have a permit to do so. Even then, they are creating issues with traffic flows as people stop to give cash and according to some areas they are endangering the safety of those around them by having people stop.

And even still giving them money is not helping those in real need. Giving to these scammers helps their drug or alcohol habits, helps make their car payments and other living expenses. So by giving to a scammer, how are you helping someone that really needs food or to help pay the light bill to keep it going?

Many people have stated why should we even care about this issue when Roanoke has other issues such as our drug opioid problem?

Well, good question. If you stop giving money to those on the corners, you would be able to help curb that issue to some degree. If your concern is our drug issue, then do what we did, start a FB group and a webpage to help combat that. We would gladly stand side by side in helping to clean up the Roanoke Valley of these issues.

Also, this is not a right wing or left wing political issue. It's an issue for us, as Americans. It's our community, as an American, as a citizen in the Roanoke Valley, we can help clean up our region one issue at a time. Let's not become like other areas of the United States and make this a political thing, because it's not. BOTH side's of the political isle can get off their high horse and agree that helping those that really need help is the issue.

The problem boils down to education.

Without knowing who is scamming or lying and who is in real need of assistance, you're taking a gamble that your money will be used for good, to help improve someones life. The best thing that you can do in order to help combat our panhandling issues include:

1. Don't Give Cash.
2. Contact the Roanoke City Mayors office and express your concerns.
3. Contact the Roanoke City Council about the issue.
4. Be involved in your local church or organization by donating there through cash or your time.
5. Help educate your friends and family about the issue and what to do.
6. Contact the police if you suspect they are aggressively panhandling or soliciting.
7. Join our Facebook group to help post your questions, images, spotting and concerns.
8. Give out blessing bags to the needy and offer assistance in another way than cash.

Finally friends if you read our welcome page you will see what we are about and what we are NOT about:

  • Educate Roanoke area citizens about the uprising in panhandling since Summer 2016. 
  • Help identify those that are in REAL NEED verses those that SCAM everyday people like you and me and those that use it to get a drug fix, pay for their normal lifestyle and how they go about making money, often times hundreds of dollars a day.
  • Encourage the city of Roanoke to change its laws to reflect other local cities and how they deal with panhandlers. While standing on the corner with a sign is legal under our first amendment rights, it's illegal to solicate without a permit and that is a form of panhandling, which is illgeal.
  • Help citizens understand why people panhandle, the abuse of panhandling and shed light on what people do with the money you give them
  • Educate citizens on how to deal with the issue and provide alternative ways you can help other than giving cash.
What this is NOT ABOUT:

  • Its NOT about homelessness. While it sometimes coincides with panhandling to some degree, the issue is to weed out the scammers. 
  • It's not to bash, condone or belittle those that are in REAL need. If YOU ARE IN REAL NEED THEN ASK FOR HELP, WE ARE HERE TO HER GET LIFE BACK ON TRACK. There are several people that are in true need of assistance and a few of them do panhandle. Instead of giving cash, there are other ways to help that I outline on the website and Facebook page.  By educating the people in real need of assistance, we can get them off the streets and push them into the help they can get through the various programs right here in the Roanoke Valley.


  1. Who are you to determine who is in need and who is not? You do not know anything about me or anyone else out there. What "intake" or "screening" process have you administered? A bunch of zealots jumping on a bandwagon of hate based on strangers' posts. Really. You are not part of the HAT team who does intake and screening. You have not visited where the homeless sleep. You know nothing. One time I got out of my caseworker's red car at King & Orange after our appointments and the craziness about me and a car has taken off insanely. I have not had a driver's license or been behind the wheel of a car since 2011. I owe you no explanation, but keep in mind the only defense against slander is the truth. None of this is hard to prove. DMV records are available as well as all the paperwork I have and caseworkers I work with. You all know nothing. So I have a $19 phone! So what! Your hatred knows no bounds.

  2. You are a waste of space

  3. You are the one that is making this a hate! Own up to it Cheryl! If you weren't doing this on the streets I don't think anyone would say anything bad about you! You are pathetic



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