146 people quizzed about their lives as part of a concerted effort to better understand the panhandlers of Union Square, how they came to be on their designated street corners, why they panhandle, what they do with the money, and what it would take to get them off the streets. The Union Square Business Improvement District conducted the survey in the 27-square-block shopping area. Fifty-eight percent of the panhandlers said they've been begging for at least five years despite the wealth of social services available in San Francisco and the city's Homeless Outreach Teams, which patrol the streets daily offering help. Sitting on the sidewalk is no longer allowed under city law while Panhandling in SF. Contradicting the common refrain from city officials who say the majority of panhandlers are housed, 82 percent of those surveyed in Union Square said they're homeless. They said their biggest obstacles to getting a place to live are that they have no job and no income and can't afford rent. Permanent housing, food and job training would help them to stop panhandling, they said. Just 3 percent said they don't want housing - also contradicting conventional wisdom that says many people flat-out refuse offers of housing. "Something's not working someplace along the line," said Tim Falvey, a member of the business improvement district's board. "Either they're not getting connected with services or the services aren't working for them. People do need shelter, and they're not getting it. ... It's an eye-opener for us. "The survey found that panhandling in Union Square is a lifestyle, not a once-in-a-while kind of thing. Fifty-three percent of panhandlers said they beg seven days a week. Sixty percent said they earn $25 or less each day, while 27 percent said they earn up to $50. Asked to list everything they spend their money on, 94 percent said food. The second most common answer was drugs or alcohol, cited by 44 percent. A quarter of panhandlers said they're alcoholics, and 32 percent said they have a drug problem. Seventy percent of those who fell into either category said they've participated in treatment programs.Who receives
83% are men
39% have a high school diploma
21% attended some college69% are single
26% served in the military70% are 40 to 59 years old
58% have been panhandling for at least five years
53% panhandle seven days a week
60% make $25 a day or less panhandling
94% use the money for food44% use it for drugs or alcohol
62% are disabled
25% are alcoholics32% are addicted to drugs
82% are homeless
95% live in San FranciscoWho's giving
80% are Bay Area residents70% are younger than 45 years old
48% have a household income under $50,000 a year60% give because they or a family member may be in need someday
61% are concerned about how panhandlers use their money
In Eureka there is a different dynamic of population but I could see some of the same principles applying. Panhandling and Homeless seem to go hand in hand. The burden on services takes a toll when homeless are transient and move ready. There were 71 calls to the fire department for “camps” and 20 tons of debris eradicated just last year.
Some Info on Eureka Homeless and Humboldt County poor from various sources:
60% of homeless in Humboldt County live in Eureka
70% of homeless make less than $1,000 a month
66% of Humboldt Homeless became that way locally
$303 a month is Humboldt’s maximum General Relief. Only 165 people were collecting as of Sept. 2013. Around decade ago there were well over 600 collecting
There are only 1,631 families currently on welfare, down over 400 from about a decade ago
The Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) seems to have helped our area a little. Betty Chinn has reportedly sent around 50 homeless a year back to their home towns.
Here is the big question concerning homeless and panhandling, “Is it worse than it ever has been?” I would say by simple observation yes, but we need to measure that subject better. “What is the cure?” If I had the answer I could help the thousands of other communities who are dealing with the same issue.
Any of you have any answers?