I was debating about this with a friend the other day and thought I'd get more opinions on the subject. Here at UT, there are homeless people everywhere! But that's not really news...
Even though I'm a college student and I'm broke, I always feel like I should help them out in some way or another. Still, I keep thinking: what if they just spend the money on alcohol or drugs? And then another thought comes to mind, isn't it all about good intentions? Let's say you give them $1, then that becomes your "good deed" of the day. However, whatever they decide to do with the money doesn't affect you, or does it? If the beggar decides to spend it on cigarettes instead of food, then why help them at all?
Another more simple way to look at this is to just give them food directly. I've tried this once and I got a grouchy reaction ( this is when you can tell who actually wants food vs money!).
(This doesn't just apply to the UT homeless, I was just using them, as an example).
Anyways, I was just wondering what other people thought on the subject of the use of philanthropy vs ignoring them completely.
I think it is also important to complicate why drugs and alcohol are bought-often to help the homeless to feel less hungry or cold. Likewise, cigarettes are especially known and used for staving off hunger. We often judge homeless people as drunkards and druggies, but often it is the circumstances of street life that lead to drug usage. In my area, there are many homeless, mentally ill Vietnam vets, who were never supported and treated after deployment (which should be the government's responsibility). Drugs allow them relief from post traumatic stress, and from the harsh conditions of outdoor living. I likewise recently read an article in which a homeless man is quoted speaking of how humiliating it is to beg, and the only way he can do it is while intoxicated. Yes, of course we often want to show these people a better way, such as getting a job, but can we really expect this in our current economy, and in the environment of employment discrimination that exists in good and bad economies?
A bottle of cheap wine is much cheaper than a heating bill, and allows one to temporarily forget the extremely poor conditions of life, and the personal tragedies that often led to these situations. I am not condoning usage, merely trying to shed light on a situation that is much more complex than it may appear at first glance.