Change in Pockets, Change in Hearts

Change in Pockets, Change in Hearts

Riley Shaw , Reporter

Giving money to the homeless is an economic crisis of the heart, a tug-of-war between the instinct to alleviate suffering and the knowledge that a donation might encourage, rather than relieve, the anguish of the poor. Very recently in Albuquerque, New Mexico the city council passed a new ordinance on panhandling and busking.

The amendment expands the ordinance to include written and other non-verbal solicitations, such as holding up a sign asking for help, in rules that limit how and where panhandling can take place. The changes also prohibit panhandling within 15 feet of the entrance or exit to a public transportation facility and in off-street parking lots and structures. Things that were taken from Albuquerque’s panhandling and busking ordinance. The city council expects those who want to give money to the less fortunate to go online and donate money there.

“When I donate money to the less fortunate, my only concern usually is that they will spend it on alcohol instead of something they need, but honestly it’s the thought that counts,” said Fr. Ardyn Goodson.

Studies on homeless income find that the typical “career panhandler” who dedicates his time to begging can make between $600 and $1,500 a month. But since panhandlers often have no way to save their money, they’re incentivized to spend most of their day’s earnings quickly. This creates a tendency to spend on short-term relief, rather than long-term needs, which can feed this dependency on alcoholic relief.

In Durango, there are many panhandlers and buskers hanging out downtown or at the bigger intersections.

“I see them around town all the time, like when I am walking downtown with my friends, occasionally it makes me uncomfortable giving them money because of the fact that there are some that are well put together, wealthy humans that do it for a little extra cash,” said Sr. Julia Garcia.

In the Durango Herald, there was an article (specific date?) that discussed the issue of fraud panhandling, stating that many of panhandlers and buskers around may not actually be homeless. There have been reports of people dressing up in large raggedy clothing and begging for money as a homeless person would in cities all over the U.S

“When I am asking for money I am extremely uncomfortable, it takes more guts than performing on stage in front of hundreds of people” said a local busker that prefers to go by Mama Laya.

Durango is one of the top tourist towns in southern Colorado that allows panhandlers and buskers to set up anywhere they please.

“ I like to set up in small tourist towns because they tend to donate more money for the free entertainment, and I mean, I can always use some extra change,” said Mama Laya.

Panhandling is slowly becoming one of the U.S’s biggest issues because of how many people either don’t need the money or the need it to feed addictions. When Albuquerque created the new ordinance, the country was shocked, but states started to find more fraud panhandling cases. Giving money to the less fortunate could lead to drug addictions, or it could help a human in need immensely.

(sidebar:) 1 out of every 4 panhandlers in the United States has served in the military at some point in time.