Over the past four years, Chandler, like the other urban cities in Maricopa County has experienced an increased number of people living without shelter. Often, we are compelled to give to those who are struggling to make ends meet in hopes our generosity will make a difference. But is giving to people who are panhandling the best way to help? The first step is to understand panhandling - what is it, who does it, and why?
What is panhandling?
Panhandling typically involves soliciting for cash or other personal needs without an exchange of goods or services.
People who panhandle are typically single, unemployed men with few family ties. Although often associated with homeless populations, people who panhandle are not usually homeless (and people who are homeless are not usually panhandlers). Some people who panhandle have untreated addictions or mental illness.
Where do people panhandle?
People who panhandle strategically position themselves in areas where soliciting yields high returns, such as areas of high vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Common locations include freeway entrances/exits, shopping areas, transit facilities, gas stations and banks. Panhandling is more prevalent in locals with mild climates, and where residents are generous.
Why do people panhandle?
People panhandle for a large variety of reasons, but in most cases, people who panhandle are experiencing extreme poverty, lacking one or more basic needs such as housing, food, or healthcare. Many people who panhandle have barriers to housing and employment including addiction, mental illness, traumatic brain injury /stress disorder, or criminal history.