Saturday, May 20, 2017

How Much Roanoke Panhandlers Make

As panhandling has become more of a main stay issue across larger cities like Chicago and Miami, Roanoke too has seen it's share of an increase in panhandling since the summer of 2016. In recent months many people have asked the question, "How much can a Panhandler make in the Star City"?

Well, to help answer the question, I took it on by two fold. The first, through various methods of research and data collection in order to get an educated guess.

The second was a bit more "hand's on", I decided to take a Saturday afternoon in March, dress myself up as a panhandler and go to three spots within Roanoke to see how much I could collect, if anything at all. That I will be reporting in another upcoming post.

The Research and Data

It's actually pretty easy to research the various reports throughout the Roanoke Valley with places like the Blue Ridge CoC Dashboard Report, the Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homelessness (BRICH) survey as well several VDOT traffic reports, the 2017 Point in Time Report and others. Now, that's just locally, it doesn't even include the national or federal data that you can request.

Through the data sets mentioned above, I was first surprised to find that most homeless people here in the Roanoke Valley actually are not panhandlers at all. Most are simply that, without a place to live at night. During the 2016 PIT (Point in Time) anonymous survey conducted at the Rescue Mission and the RAM house, just 2 out of the 145 surveyed admitted to panhandling.

VDOT provides some pretty detailed information with regards to traffic numbers as various intersections within the city of Roanoke and Roanoke County. These numbers are used as a basis to collection some information.

We've created an Excel document with a handful of fairly popular places where panhandling occurs almost on a daily basis. Through the data we gathered, we've been able to make this spreadsheet flexible, you can adjust the number of cars that gives, the average amount each car gives and the number of days a week a panhandler can operate.

You can find the Roanoke Panhandling Spreadsheet here and adjust these numbers yourself to see the values for yourself.

How to Adjust the SpreadSheet

Its very simple. The three adjustable factors in RED will help give you an idea of how much a panhandler can make just from collecting a few bucks.

#1. Car Ratio - The car ratio is the number of cars that stop and give cash. For example, if 460/King St. Averages 40,000 cars a day and 1 in every 1,000 cars gives, that's a 1:1,000 ratio or 40 cars. As you adjust the numbers you can see the column called "Total Cars Given" showing how many cars gave out of the Daily Traffic Volume.

#2. Paid - This is the amount that each of those cars would give. You can change this value or simply use it as an average.

#3. Days a Week - How many days a given panhandler would work. Days are based on 8 hour days.

The yearly cash amounts vary depending on location, volume of traffic, time of year, etc. The will give you a good idea of how much someone could make if they panhandle on a regular basis as some in Roanoke do.

Example #1.

A Person that works just 3 days a week, averaging $5 per car and setting the ratio to 1:850 (1 in every 850 cars gives) can net a salary between $17k-$33k a year.

Example #2. 

A Person working 6 days a week, with the average car giving $5 and setting the ratio to 1:1,000 (1 in every 1,000 cars gives) could net $30k-$57k a year.

While giving just a few bucks to a panhandler (NOT a homeless person, there IS a difference), can net a great cash flow for literally just standing on a street corner.


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