Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS



NEEDCOM:
 
Some people don't give to panhandlers because they think some panhandlers make $30,000 a year or more.
 
 
LANETTE:
 
I know a couple of people that make good money. I'm going to be honest with you, there's a lot of them out here that are on drugs. There's more panhandlers on drugs—panhandling for drugs—than sober people. And I'm keeping it real with you. So what he (Steve) told you in that bank is not for real. There are more drug addict panhandlers. They panhandle for drugs. Their habit. And I'm keeping it real with you.
 
 
NEEDCOM:
 
Have you heard any other reasons why people don't give?
 
 
LANETTE:
 
"'Cause they're probably using drugs. They're probably smoking crack." It has been said to me, "Why should I give you money?" Or I have people give me money and say, "Spend it wisely. Spend it on nothing foolishly. Don't buy drugs with it." Yeah! There's a lot of panhandlers that panhandle for quick money.
 
..........

 
NEEDCOM:
 
Some people think you shouldn't give money to panhandlers, you should give food instead.
 
 
GARY:
 
That I can agree with. Because a lot of people feel like you're going to take it and waste it on drugs, you're going to waste it on alcohol, so that I can agree with.
 
..........

 
NEEDCOM:
 
Do you think panhandlers that refuse a gift of food are going to use the money for drugs or alcohol?
 
 
PRIM:
 
If they say "Can you spare any change, I'm trying to get something to eat." I've seen it happen. And then someone comes in and says, "I won't give you any money, but do you want to go across the street and I'll buy you something to eat?" They'll say no thank you. You see they don't want it for something to eat, they want it for other reasons. They want cash, they don't really want it for something to eat.
 
..........

 
NEEDCOM:
 
Do you ever feel that people who pass by you are scared of you? How do you react to that?
 
 
EASY:
 
They are scared of you. Because panhandling people are labeled already. They're alcoholics, drug addicts, so they already have this stereotype when they look at you. They say, you're panhandling 'cause you're alcoholic, you're panhandling not because you don't have a place to stay. See, panhandling ... A lot of people don't know that there are people that have jobs and don't have a place to stay. I got a friend that sleeps on the train and gets up and go to work. 'Cause he can't afford the rent. So, what do you say to this guy? His self-esteem is starting to go down. And he's a good guy, man.
 
..........

 
NEEDCOM:
 
I'm going to ask you some questions about other panhandlers.
 
 
DONALD:
 
Well basically, other people that panhandle do it for all types of reasons. Some might do it for drug habit. Some might do it because they ain't got no other choice but to do it. But basically, a lot of people that panhandle do it for drugs.
 


 
Smoking, drinking, or drugs with your money?

 
Jobs

Hustle



Compared to YOUR job, panhandling is:
HarderEasier

NeedCom is a project of Web Lab, in association with PBS Online.
All content copyright 1999, Cathy Davies.
Contact Us | What Do YOU Think?