The facts about panhandling
While not all panhandlers have substance abuse issues, many do. Giving money to those with substance abuse problems can entrap them into a cycle of abuse that can result in an overdose or other serious medical problems.
Enabling panhandlers to live on the street disincentivizes them to seek help from shelters that require sobriety or provide substance abuse counseling.
Giving panhandlers money enables them living in homeless camps. Homeless camps are a safety hazard to panhandlers because of their high rates of sexual assault and abuse. Winter time brings an additional hazard -- exposure. Homeless camps are also a danger to the broader community as they're sometimes erected near well-trafficked areas like trails. Click here to learn more about homelessness in Anchorage.
Some panhandlers are caught up in human trafficking. This could be either as a victim or a trafficker. 28% of homeless youth have been victims of human trafficking and the money that you give to panhandlers may contribute directly to human trafficking.
Loitering panhandlers discourage potential customers. Often times panhandlers will get into conflicts with store employees, putting them in dangerous situations and increasing turnover. Furthermore, panhandlers frequently damage property, costing business owners and taxpayers when police are called.
Giving money to panhandlers at busy intersections encourages the dangerous behavior of walking into traffic. This has been known to cause traffic accidents.
Want to help panhandlers?
There are two ways to help panhandlers in Anchorage: not giving money directly to panhandlers, and giving to human services agencies instead. Giving money to human services agencies assures that your money will be put to good use by helping those that need it most. When panhandlers seek out services from these agencies, the agencies can provide the resources needed to help them escape the vicious cycle of panhandling and living on the street.