The Hartford Courant this week noticed what most everyone else around here has– panhandlers are on nearly every corner of big intersections these days. Many carry the standard signs drawn on ripped cardboard “Homeless and Hungry.” Some wear masks, others don’t. Some make eye contact, others look down at their feet. They almost universally say “God Bless,” when you roll down your window and give them a dollar. I suspect that is more panhandler etiquette than religious belief.
How many of them have lost their jobs, and their homes due to COVID and the economic downturn? And how many of them are substance users? What are they doing with the money? Buying bread to feed their families or buying liquor or drugs and/or alcohol to fight off withdrawal sickness?
The article reports that several towns are asking people not to give panhandlers money for fear it will encourage them and increase the problem. Instead, they advocate donating money to local homeless shelters and other charities that service the homeless population.