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Stay in Faith, A better life is on the horizon

Social Justice Blog

Social Justice Blog

Panhandling a sign of societal and human failure

Posted on August 13, 2016 at 3:05 PM

by Guy R. Grant

Whenever we see young unkempt men standing by the roadside holding a sign asking a dollar, a meal or a work; we might wonder what happened in their lives that they should be in such a dire need. Most people think of these men as panhandlers or freeloaders who do not want a steady job or any institutional boundaries that would provide income for them to pay their fair share of fostering a productive society. Few people, if any, ever stop to ask them how they got in such predicament. We assume that they really did not try to get a job, they are drug or alcohol abusers, or they are just lazy men trying to take the easy way out. So, we roll up our car windows, turn the radio on louder, or just turn our heads in the other direction. We think, “it’s not my problem” let the city solve the nuisance of vagrants standing on corners and freeway entrances.

This is a common attitude since we do not realize that panhandling is the evidence of a much deeper breach in our institutions.  Many cities fight panhandling by banning panhandling, arresting them or placing restrictions or where someone can panhandle (Lauriello, 2016). City leaders think the solution is to hide the problem since the problem of homelessness is too great to solve. The constitutionality of the freedom to panhandler or the laws to regulate their existence have been adjudicated in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and Seattle (Scott, 2003, Laureillo, 2016) .

Taking a more merciful and humane approach to this problem, Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque communicated with the panhandlers to find out what the panhandlers’ needed and whether they were willing to work ( Washington Post, 2016 ). Most panhandlers’ were eager to work and in fact the demand for work out stripped the funding of the program. In doing so, it was brought to light that some panhandlers were recently released from prison and had little success in getting gainful employment.

Some panhandlers do not know the systems in place to help them re-enter society. The fact that they did not know where to go to get proper assistance is evidence of a lack of communication between our correctional systems, social systems, and other familiar system such a faith and community based organization. So the next time you see a panhandler, there of speaking to the mayor of your city avout a program similare to Mayor Berry's. As a random act of kindness and mercy give the panhandler a buck.


Community Oriented Policing Services (2015). Law Enforcement is a Critical Component of the Coordinated Effort to End Homelessness. The e-newsletter of the COPS Office | Volume 8 | Issue 12 | December 2015. Available at:

Itkowitz, C. (2016). This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working. Available at:

Lauriello, A, (2016). Regulation of Expression in Times Square and the First Amendment (July 13, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Lauriello, A. (2016). Panhandling Regulation After Reed v. Town of Gilbert (April 9, 2016). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, 2016  Available at SSRN:

Scott, M. (2003) Panhandling.Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Problem-Specific Gudes Series No. 13. office of Community Oriented Policing Services. UlS. Department of Justice.  Available at:  http/


Wiltz, T. (2015). Anti-Panhandling Laws Spread, Face Legal Challenges. The Pew Charitable Trust. Stateline. November 12, 2015. Available at:



Categories: Reducing Recidivism, Reflection