WHOSE PROBLEM IS IT?

Panhandling; or people standing on street corners asking for money, seems to be happening more and more as I look around me. I've seen people panhandling between stores off Highway 95 in Princeton. I was headed to a Twins Game a few weeks ago, and saw a homeless person just sitting at a stoplight, not asking for anything; just sitting there, sifting through the trash that surrounded them.

Sometimes, I see certain people over and over at the same corner. I see them approaching stopped traffic at lights. but most of the people I see are just holding signs and sitting at stop lights. A few times I've seen gentlemen in wheel chairs; one in the middle of a side road, and another sitting quietly out in the rain, with a look of hopelessness on his face.

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When I say I have mixed emotions about this, I truly do. Who do I help? How do I help? Do I help? What can I do? What am I teaching my kids by ignoring a human being that is in such dire need?

I'm not a mental health professional. Is giving someone a sandwich, and then walking away from them so they can sleep out in the street really an acceptable way to treat someone? At the same time, I don't know this person... I want to protect myself...I want to protect my family.

Sometimes I'm angry. Sometimes I think to myself, "I'm out here working three jobs to take care of my kids...I can't take care of them too."   I hear other people saying that  they all have cellphones and new shoes. That they have a home and this is their job. I hear that they make more money than most of us out here working regular jobs. I hear that if we stop helping these people, that they won't be on the corner anymore asking for help. I hear that the police won't do anything about it. It sounds like a whole lot of blame...which usually means we haven't done enough to solve a very real problem.

TRUTH OR MYTH

In many of the studies that they've conducted, most people that you see with signs really, truly, need help. For whatever reason, they cannot get a job, but if offered one, most of them would take it if they could find a way to get there. There's a lot to consider. Where can they get cleaned up? Where will they get clothing? Where will they sleep? If you are someone that walks up and offers them a job, do you really have a job for them? Are you treating them with dignity if they accept the job? Are they in any condition to work at the time you offer the help? Or do they need a good meal, a good nights sleep, a visit to the doctor? It isn't as simple as getting off the street and going to work.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

The National Homelessness Law Center is a place where you can go to learn more about changing the lives of those experiencing homelessness. In many of the studies that they've conducted, most people that you see with signs really, truly, need help. For whatever reason, they cannot get a job, but if offered one, most of them would take it if they could find a way to get there.

There's a lot to consider. Where can they get cleaned up? Where will they get clothing? Where will they sleep? If you are someone that walks up and offers them a job, do you really have a job for them? Are you treating them with dignity if they accept the job? Are they in any condition to work at the time you offer the help? Or do they need a good meal, a good nights sleep, a visit to the doctor? It isn't as simple as getting off the street and going to work.

There are many organizations in the central Minnesota area that are there to help people who are experiencing homelessness. It might be a good idea to give someone the information of where they can go to get help?

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