MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a part of big-city life — people on the streets asking for money. Panhandlers can be found across Minneapolis and St. Paul, and even in the suburbs.
So what is the best way to help a panhandler? Good Question.
A study in San Francisco found that typically panhandlers make less than $25 a day. Around 94 percent said they use the money for food, and 44 percent said some of it goes towards drugs and alcohol.
“A lot of times they’re a transient population. They’re around for a while and then they’re gone,” Minneapolis Police spokesman Corey Schmidt said. “The simplest thing to do would just be to say no. Just say no and walk away.”
Schmidt says as long as panhandlers aren’t blocking traffic or harassing anyone, what they’re doing is legal. But that doesn’t mean he recommends giving your money away.
“We would rather that people not give money directly to panhandlers on the street,” he said. “For one reason, there is no way to tell exactly how that money is going to benefit that person.”
Instead, if you want to help, Schmidt says give your money to charity.
“What we would recommend is that people make donations to several groups throughout the city, one of them being YouthLink, and the other one being St. Stephen’s Shelter,” he said. “Both of those groups are actively doing outreach in the city of Minneapolis on a regular basis.”
The National Alliance to End Homelessness says giving to a panhandler isn’t a bad thing, but it won’t solve the homelessness problem.