Woohoo: giving money to homeless shelters
I have fairly liberal opinions concerning the homeless. I know that the issue is much more complicated than homeless people being unwilling to secure jobs or preferring to be addicted to drugs -— as many of the most elegant conservative arguments boil down to. People may become homeless for these very reasons, no doubt, but I prefer to view these people as people before lazy drug addicts.
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see anyone, including myself and (doubtlessly) our hundreds of loyal SFU student readers, as having the potential to be homeless. Even if my growing up as upper-middle-class stayed constant, a change in family, friends, love, or forgiveness could have led me down a path of addiction, or deep-set problems that emerge as financial irresponsibility.
Homeless people deserve support before judgement, which is why homeless organizations, like shelters, churches, and support groups, deserve the extra financial or physical support of whomever can give it.
Boohoo: handing out money on the street
Handing out money to people panhandling does not solve the issues surrounding homelessness. At first, it appears to be helping someone support themselves, at least in the short term. However, there is no guarantee that the money they receive will go somewhere worthy. Many of them suffer from mental-health issues, or do not know how to spend their money appropriately.
Of course this does not apply to every person begging on the street, but, doubtless, it applies to many. In the end, handing out money freely supports people living a lifestyle in which people exist in society without contributing.
The act may seem like one of the many small acts of kindness that make the world a better place. And perhaps it is. The problem, though, is that there are so many other kinder acts that require a similar sized contribution — for example, giving money to worthy homeless shelters.
So the next time you’re tempted to give money to a homeless person, write a reminder to give that same amount to a homeless shelter. Better yet, volunteer time or donate food. If you really want to help, it’s the best you can do.