in FS, Psychology

Beggars on the Streets of San Francisco

We were walking up Columbus to breakfast this morning. As we came to a corner, a well-dressed Asian man came out of a coffee shop carrying two steaming cups. A gaunt beggar stepped toward him and held out his hand saying, “Can you lend me some money for breakfast?”

The Asian man threw back his head and laughed loudly. “That’s funny,” he said, striding away. He laughed again.

“I hope you’re never poor and hungry,” the beggar muttered under his breath. His eyes caught mine. “Can you lend me some money for breakfast?” he asked. I looked away and walked on, embarrassed.

The streets of San Francisco are filled with beggars. Portland has them, too, but not like this. Here there seem to be one or two on every block. (I know that’s an exaggeration, but that’s how it feels.) In Portland they’re mostly scraggly older white men. Here they come in every age, type, and color.

Off the top of my head, I’ve seen:

  • A man in a wheelchair selling his “art” along Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • A man in Haight-Ashbury holding a cardboard sign reading “Need $ for Weed”. He was gregarious, stopping people to chat with them. He was making a lot of money.
  • Another man holding a sign that said “Dollars for Booze”
  • A grizzled middle-aged man sprawled on Haight, disoriented. Another beggar was crouching next to him. “You okay, man?” he was saying. “I’ll get you help. Here’s all I’ve made today.” And he poured his coins into the other man’s cup. The sick man tried to hug him. “I’ll be back with help,” said the benevolent beggar.
  • In Chinatown, every block had an old Chinese man playing a two-stringed bowed instrument (something from the erhu family?). The streets were filled with strange music.

Beggars are a moral quandary for me. I want to help. In an ideal world, I’d help them all. Or I’d at least help those who are legitimately in trouble. But how can I tell which beggars are truly needy, and which are just going to use the money for booze or pot? Does it matter? And who am I to judge?

It might seem silly to write about this — it’s such a trivial part of personal finance (if a part of it at all) — but I think it presents important moral implications. I know many people are opposed to giving money to beggars ever, and I cannot blame them. I’m always reminded of one of my favorite Bible passages, the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), which reads in part:

For I hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Last night I was in a great mood. I’d just had a great meal — clam chowder, fresh crab, a few ribs — and was walking back to the hotel. I passed a one-eyed black man holding a styrofoam cup outside a 7-11. “Change?” he whispered. “Change?” I stopped, pivoted, dug in my pocket and gave him all the change I’ve accumulated on this trip so far. “God bless you, brother,” the man whispered. And I walked on.

I wish I could do more.

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39 Comments

  1. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    But if you are funding their drug habit, is that so great? Is it better to assume that they really will buy medicine, food, etc. with your dollar or two, or are tehy looking for their next fix, or a tax free income?

    Locally, we’ve got a guy who raps (“Help is on the way” – if you know that, you know where I’m at). Supposedly, he’s got a great house (rented, mind you), a motorcycle, an Audi and plenty of possesions. He makes no claims of being homeless, however, and he just raps on the street for whatever he’s given.

  2. When I worked in DC for a summer, I was constantly approached by beggars on the street. At first, I gave what I could. After awhile, I couldn’t afford it. What I resolved to do was join a food bank and work from there. The only time I gave money after that was to buy a bottled water or two when it was hot outside.

    I do have a soft spot in my heart for musicians as my dad made a good amount of money across from the DC museums when I was young. I will give them what I can, when I can.

  3. I always hated the uncomfortable moment that the beggar puts me in by being there, presenting themselves, causing me to feel inconsiderate or selfish. Then I gave a bunch of money (hundreds over a couple months) in Berkeley to a guy like this who had me convinced that he just needed to get “over the hump” and get a job he was applying for but needed clothes, shelter, etc. I gave him my steel-toe workboots, rides around town, bring him up to my apartment for talks. Then I realized he was just scamming me and was “working” other folks in Berkeley giving them different stories. I didn’t give to any beggar for years and years, feeling violated.

    Then I woke up again, recently. We will never be without the poor, the Bible says as much. Thinking that we will solve the problem by donating spare change occasionally or even putting lots of public programs into place is foolish, we will always have the poor.

    In Portland I almost always say “Sorry, not today” in response, acknowledging they exist but not donating money which sometimes gets a thanks. (Perhaps if I were in SF I wouldn’t even look them in the eye for fear of getting someone gregarious following me.)

    For me, now, it serves a humbling role to see the beggars even though I rarely donate to their cause. When I do give some change I don’t do it in hopes they won’t buy beer, but do it simply because they are there asking.

  4. Matthew 25:31-46 is a passage that haunts me. If you’ve ever listened to Keith Green’s “The Sheep and The Goats,” you know why. I used to feel the same way you did about not knowing who to help or when. So one day, I decided to do something about. I volunteered at a local community center that is also a soup kitchen and church. They give people financial assistance, counseling, etc.

    The point is that my helping at the community center, no matter how insignificant or unnoticed, builds toward a greater good of helping the neediest in my community. We can’t help everyone and the poor will always be with us (Matthew 26:11), but we can DO SOMETHING.

    We can effect change in our sphere of influence. And I believe that is all God is asking us to do. He doesn’t expect us to solve poverty. Nor does he expect us to impoverish ourselves by giving too much to others.

    Giving is like anything else in life, you have to find balance. And I’ll be the first to say that I don’t give enough, nor do I give very sacrificially. I’m too content with giving comfortably instead.

  5. If you do want to help, get your leftovers from your meals out wrapped up and give them to the people begging on the street. If they’re hungry, they’ll take it. Of course, most of the time they come up with a reason why they really need money instead.

  6. Ministering to the homeless is something close to my heart (I serve on the board of a homeless ministry in my city). My wife and I have long had a policy of never giving out cash on the street, but rather we directly support those ministries and organizations that are treating and fighting homelessness. Organizations have the experience to more wisely minister to the homeless than most of us could do, so my recommendation is, if you feel moved to do something to help, consider contributing time, talents, and money to an organization so dedicated.

    When you are on vacation, there are a couple of options if you want to help local to where you are rather than local to where you live. If you can plan ahead of time, contact some organizations to get information. Some will “sell” meal tickets that you can hand out. (Of course, these meals are usually free anyway, but your “purchase” helps defray some costs and the “ticket” will have the address of the organization to help the recipient find it.) If you can’t plan ahead of time, carry some fast-food gift certificates with you. It isn’t the healthiest option, but you can give them just a couple of buck of gift certs and have a better chance of it being used on food.

  7. I quite often keep a granola bar or an apple or something in my bag and when I get asked for change I offer that up instead. I can only remember once when someone actually accepted it. One time I offered a guy and apple and he scowled at me and gave me a sharp “no”! I stopped and gave him a puzzled look. He looked at me and smiled and said, “I ain’t go no teef.” He infact, had no teeth.

  8. I agree. My rule of thumb is to give food, and not money. Money can be used for drugs, booze, etc (as mentioned above).

  9. I also live in Berkeley, and have for 5 years now. I can probably count on two hands the number of times I’ve given change to someone on the street. Your estimate is not unreasonable – certainly in Berkeley you are likely to see several people on every corner downtown asking for money. I’ve come to the conclusion that Berkeley is a pretty good place to be homeless. The city, local businesses and various non-profits provide free meals, clothing, needles, and even free healthcare (I believe on a lottery basis). The weather is mild. I give up leftovers readily, but rarely hand out change (and when I do it’s for my own idiosyncratic reasons). Friendly, polite people are more likely to get something out of me, everyone else gets a simple and direct “Sorry”.

  10. Great post. I love your question of what part of personal finance does giving money to beggers play. Maybe a future post on frugal living and philanthropy is in order?

    I too share your anguish. On the streets of Cleveland OH there are many needy persons. While I don’t give away much in terms of money, I try to volunteer my time frequently and be as generous as possible.

  11. I volunteered at a homeless shelter in college, stayed overnight, helped cook meals, etc. Here’s something that I missed on these message boards that’s really important to remember: an overwhelming number of the homeless have a debilitating mental illness of some kind. The reason they might drink or use drugs is quite literally self-medication; if you hit a rough patch in life and you couldn’t afford a therapist, how would you silence the demons in your head? It’s really said that they get labelled as junkies or alcoholics, when really they’re just mentally ill.

  12. Maybe I am rather callous, but I never give anything to beggars here in the Netherlands. I live in a country which has a more than decent social safety net for everyone who’se life takes a downhill. The Dutch citizens are paying for it by way of our humongous taxes.
    If you need it there is help for you, you just have to be willing to take it. I paid the taxes, I’ve done my part. The rest is up to them.

  13. I have to say I love everyone’s responses – volunteering your time (time *IS* money as they say…) is worth a lot more then a couple bucks on uncertainty.

    I don’t think (insert_religious_figure_here) was thinking how much money we can give to help out the leser of our brothers and sisters, but what we do to help them.

  14. I once assessed whether a person asking for money ‘needed it’ or not. Now I don’t. I assume if they are asking for it, they need it.

  15. An old woman once stopped me in the street on a cold day in Brooklyn. She was wearing no coat, so I gave her mine, and my husband gave her some money. I went about my business and later in the evening I stopped in the mosque to pray. When I got up I was stunned to see the same woman with two other obviously poor old women. She was wearing the coat. She hugged me, and invited me and these other women to eat some fish and rice she’d just bought at a restaurant down the road. We didn’t even speak the same language. It was an amazing, rare opportunity to see what happens after giving money to someone begging, and in this case it was used as it should be.

  16. The Sheep and Goats parable is troubling. It is easily to justify not giving by making judgments like “they probably use it for drugs,” but I don’t think that is what God intended. The Bible doesn’t tell us to try to figure out the scammers, it just asks us to give what we can. There is an ultimate judge, and I try to trust that the scammers will get what they deserve, and those who are not scammer will find some measure of comfort.

  17. Hi there, and welcome to San Francisco. I actually live and work in the neighborhood that you blogged about (North Beach/Chinatown), so I confront the people that you met on the streets every single day. I’m glad that you, a tourist, have pondered this so thoughtfully and at such length — so many others I meet who are visiting the city avoid the homelessness/poverty issue here entirely.

    Homelessness is a huge issue here in SF, not unrelated to the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to afford to live here (I live with family.) It’s politically, and as I’ve read and seen, morally, divisive – our current Mayor implemented a controversial program, “Care Not Cash”, a few years ago.

    As for me, someone who lives here in SF – I contribute heavily to my inner-city church body, which in turn supports local hunger and homeless ministries. We also host homeless shelters, cook breakfasts & dinners, and have a drop-in pantry. I typically don’t give money to folks who are panhandling, but I’ll help folks out if they need bus fare or BART tickets (homeless or not!) It’s nuts to me that people can’t even get to places where they can get help, if they wanted to access shelters/public dining rooms.

    It’s worth saying that the issues that you’re confronting here in an urban environment exist within your own community, perhaps to a less visible extent. I’ve found Bread for the World (http://www.bread.org/), which my congregation is active with, to be a great resource for learning more about hunger issues in the US and linking up with resources where you can do something about it locally.

    Enjoy the rest of your stay here!

    PS – The old guys you see playing the erhu on Grant Avenue do that for a living… they typically have places to live, even if they’re in tenement-like SROs in Chinatown (another issue altogether.) Same goes for the Chinese folks you see collecting recyclables — if you ever travel to China, you will find that this is a huge, huge practice.

  18. The Church that I belong to has a benevolence ministry – I’m sure that more than my fair share is making to those in need. Also, as I’m involved in volunteering, people are brought along my way that I can help in tanglible ways – including money.

    As for the verse in Matthew 25, you notice it didn’t say “I was a random person asking for money and you didn’t gave me money as you busily passed by”. The true application of that verse involves you reaching out and touching the person, finding a real need in their life, and recifying the problem. Simply giving money to those who are begging will not get them out of the gutter, is an awful way of trying to make up for your guilt for not being generous enough, and enables this ineffective behavior.

    My advice, get involved locally when you get home and give generously. If you want to help folks in SF, get together with one of these commenters or follow one of the links to get money to those who know how to help these folks.

  19. There’s a difference between panhandling and busking. Performing for money is worthwhile and public art and music are wonderful.

    Homeless panhandling is not.

    I’ve lived in 4 major urban areas, SF included. The one thing I will say is never give a panhandler in the Bay Area money. They don’t freeze to death in the winter like on the east coast. It’s a horrible, but very true fact. I am much more sympathetic to homeless people on the east coast because I don’t know how they make it through the winter here.

    Often times ‘street kids’ in the Haight are suburban brats with drug habits, or homeless people are con-artists.

    Institutional giving is much better since it is an institutional problem of our society that these folks slip through the cracks.

  20. Great post. For me, giving to those in need is about compassion more than it is about money; when I give I make sure I not only give generously but also make eye contact, ask the person their name, and let them know that I’ll pray for them (which I do). These are fellow human beings, after all, and there’s no reason to treat them as anything less.

    As a Christian, I believe that giving is as also about realizing that the things we have are often well beyond what we need (especially if we’re in a position to be reading this site), and that they are given to us just as we give to others (including our talents). If we lose site of that fact then greed quickly becomes consumes us.

    Finally, I’m far from naive. I realize that the money I give to these people may end up being spent on alcohol or drugs. That’s out of my hands. I’d rather give to four people in order for one of them to be able to eat a decent meal for the first time that day than not give to any of them because I can’t figure out who deserves it. (And yes, I give to food kitchens and the like as well.)

  21. But how can I tell which beggars are truly needy, and which are just going to use the money for booze or pot? Does it matter? And who am I to judge?

    To quote a TV show:

    Dan:  Who do you give your money to now?

    Isaac: I give it here and there. There are plenty of good causes.

    Dan:  That’s the problem.

    Isaac:  Danny, every morning I leave an acre and a half of the most beautiful property in New Canaan. I get on a train and come to work in a 54-story glass highrise. In between, I step across bodies to get here. Twenty, thirty, fifty of ’em a day. So, as I’m stepping over them, I reach into my pocket and give ’em whatever I’ve got.

    Dan:  You’re not afraid they’re gonna spend it on booze?

    Isaac:  I’m hoping they’re gonna spend it on booze. Look, Danny, these people, most of them, it’s not like they’re one hot meal from turning it around. For most of them, the clock’s pretty much run out. They’ll be home soon enough. What’s wrong with giving ’em a little Novocain to get ’em through the night?

    Having said that, I walk past beggars in Boston. In many cases, I’ve been seeing the same faces holding the same paper cups for ten years. I hold faith in Matthew 25:31—46, but I also believe that God helps those who help themselves.

    The latest phenomenon in Cambridge has been teenagers wearing designer jeans and $100 sneakers, sitting around Harvard Square holding cups and signs asking for money. You look at them and they’re obviously not homeless: Their hair is washed and they’ve got $60 worth of earrings stuck in their faces; but apparently they decided that since they’re going to sit around “The Pit” all day anyway, they might as well hold a cup and collect a few dollars.

  22. cribcage — I know exactly which TV show you’re quoting, and I know exactly which episode. It’s one of our favorite shows (we even own the DVDs). Right on.

    And great comments, everyone. I don’t have time to respond (still on vacation), but I’m checking in every now and then…

  23. all of you are weak pieces of crap!!
    giving them money only makes it worse

    if nobody paid them, they would quit asking and the problem would be solved. and dont give me crap about them needing it to eat, they can get a fucking job.

    when you walk by the scum, just ignore them or be like “yeah, right”.

  24. The way that I’ve ended up reconciling people begging is whether or not it is socially acceptable. I grew up in New Zealand (I was born mid 70’s for a time reference) and in a city of 350,000 I remember that there was *the* beggar. Now I admit there probably were more, but there was one guy who was *known*. I just never saw homeless or beggars.
    Why were there no homeless people there? As I grew up I thought probably it was because the standard of living was better in New Zealand but I’ve traveled a lot and lived in Canada, New York for 5 years and now in Scotland and know that those places often have a similar or higher standard of living than NZ so that’s not the issue.
    I know that some cities/countries have better social welfare systems and services and that sometimes the homeless have mental health problems so that’s part of the reason but some places with good social welfare still have beggars and others don’t.

    So as I started out saying I think it’s whether begging is socially acceptable or not. If people don’t see beggars and it’s not part of the culture or socially acceptable in that place then if someone finds themselves in a desperate situation if doesn’t occur to them that begging is an option or solution and they go down some other path for help. How or why a society becomes one or the other of these states I don’t know.

    After deciding that I just couldn’t trust whose story was legit and whose wasn’t I very rarely give money to people asking for it. But I often try and acknowledge them either with a “Sorry, not today” or my favorite — a big beaming friendly smile. They don’t usually know how to respond. They might complain “A smile don’t help fill my belly” but I like to think that it makes their day brighter for just a little while.

  25. I visited SF last year. I’m from the midwest, where we have poor people, but not any beggars that I’ve noticed. When I saw the man playing his keyboard outside the bart and the five other beggars outside on the stairs I was very , very nervous. I got hit up for a lot of money. I gave a few pieces of change here and there, until I saw a man peddling flowers that I saw in a trash can I had just passed, and those selling free newspapers. They obviously have an eye for visitors. I should have had a big target on me. Eventually though, I felt my heart hardden after I had to refuse and push people away. I agree, that had I had something like food, I would have been happy to give it. I did find one gentleman, who helped redirect me in the direction I needed when I got lost downtown. He walked with me for a couple of blocks and then asked if I could help him out with dinner. I thought about taking him somewhere, but didn’t have time. At any rate, I gave him five bucks to get some noodles from the thai place. I actually saw him go in. Whether he ordered noodles or not I don’t know. I felt good about helping him, which sort of made up for the feelings I had about the general homeless. Not all are out there to get high or drunk, but it’s an unfortunate stereotype.

    Thanks for this read.

  26. I’ve never been to USA, but if I have understood correctly there are very few massive social welfare programs in your country. In Scandinavia begging is not a big problem nor a security issue. We tend to attribute that to social welfare programs, which are governmental and quite large in size.

    I used to be critical of those programs until I went to South America where begging and street crime is a huge problem and a security issue. Seeing societies which do not have equal opportunities for all in terms of education and basic social security was an eye-opener for me.

    Humans are not equally capable in long-term planning and strategic thinking (budgeting, goalsetting etc.). People on the streets have usually very short range plans (the next meal or bottle of booze) to their demise and the crux of the problem is that they really cannot see alternatives for that life. Even with intervention (therapy, advice, social programs) it truly is very hard to get out of the streets for many. But as fellow humans they need assistance, of course. My vote is on large scale welfare programs, effectively supervised.

  27. I work in Human Services, at an agency serving the homeless & at-risk in Sacramento (just a couple of hours East of SF), of which we also have many. SF is notorious for the aggressiveness of its panhandlers, so it’s probably a bit daunting for a visitor. Anyway, on this topic: I no longer give money to panhandlers. I make no judgements about what I *think* the money is used for, I honestly don’t feel it’s any of my business. But I work in the field, and I know there are community resources available: food banks, hot meals, shared housing, shelters, health clinics, transportation assistance, etc. It’s all out there, and most people are more resourceful than they may seem at first glance. I have, on many occasions, offered information on how to access those resources to someone asking me for money to (seemingly) get to the same point, and I have gotten the brush-off every time. I was not offended, but I was certainly glad I held to my ‘no cash’ policy. I am very liberal, I support social programs, I am more than aware of the level of mental illness within the homeless community – and I do not assume anything about anyone asking for money. I do think that giving money to panhandlers increases the number of people panhandling – if it works, more folks do it. But that doesn’t mean some of those folks aren’t genuinely in need of what they’re panhandling for. Someone who is genuinely hungry WILL eat food you bring to them or provide via gift certificates or vouchers.

  28. Hi Ive just back back from SF, (was on honeymoon) i at first found the beggars disturbing and felt frightened, but after a while i felt sorry for them, as to why they have to beg? is there no social security there i am from london?
    Dee

  29. How interesting, JD; you’ve attracted the two extremes with your post.

    On the one hand, you have someone who apparently not only has no consideration for the suffering of others, but no consideration for the sensitivity of others to vile language.

    On the other hand, you drew someone who believes that charity at gunpoint is the solution–and that government can be trusted to be more caring than the people who operate and/or fund it.

    Myself, I offer no solution. Those who fall on hard times simply do, and of course we as Christians ought to help them. For those who WON’T get up off their backsides and at least try, nothing we can do ever will get them up.

    I’ve tried the old “Let’s go over to Wendy’s and I’ll buy you a combo meal” routine–uniformly rejected by the beneficiaries. Only once have I heard of “I just need a tank of gas” actually being genuine. It’s hard to be charitable when the person wants the cash, not the thing for which they request the cash!

    I read stories about how transients, once upon a time, would approach the back door of a house and ask whether any work needed doing around there–and, of course, the lady of the house could usually come up with SOME excuse to give the man a plate of food. I wonder whatever happened to that?

  30. It is interesting how different countries handle the situation of beggars. When I was living in Peru for two years, I noticed that some beggars actually had proof from the government in regards to their situation, clearly stating that as far as they can tell, the only way this person can survive is by beggin and that they encourage you to donate. Others that make a healthy amount or are able-bodied and have family on which to rely do not have these documents. Of course, Peru doesn’t really have any kind of social welfare programs, especially not in the rural communities,but it seems like it could possibly work if manipulated to fit the needs of beggars here to prove their true need. Of course it would require more government processes which are already high in abundance, and also cost more tax money. Any ideas on how something like this could work?

    Katie

  31. What’s going on with the “Asian” man distinction? If it were a white male, would you have named him as such? Yes, you’re good hearted and all for giving a homeless person money, but keeping racial and socioeconomic (“beggar”? Are we in the 18thc.?) lines in your head does society a larger disservice.

  32. I’ve been living in Seattle for the past few years, and they have an interesting system here. There is a weekly (I think) newspaper called Real Change (nice little pun there) that is sold to the homeless for $.30 and issue. They sell it on the streets for $1 an issue. I think its a great way of giving these people a proactive way to deal with their situation and to EARN some money instead of begging for it.
    Coming from SF area where there are even more homeless than there are in Seattle, I’m amazed that more cities don’t start something like this.

  33. I agree with Enide. I noticed that the only two times you mentioned the race of a person were in describing the Asian man and the black man. Everyone else’s race didn’t receive mention. This is troubling for two reasons. It reinforces the idea that whiteness is neutral (when in fact, there is no neutrality when it comes to race). It also reinforces exaggerated and misleading stereotypes about Asian and black Americans. If you’re not going to mention the race of every person you talk about (and if you did, I would seriously wonder what the motivation was), I would suggest not mentioning anyone’s and simply describing the person as a “man,” “woman,” or “person.”

  34. RAYMOND SAYS:
    I MET A LADY WHO WAS PEDDLING FRUIT. HER TRUCK WAS DISABLED AND SHE NEEDED MONEY FOR REPAIR. I PURCHASED 100 BOTTLES OF WATER AND SET HER UP ( AS A BEGGAR ) ON AN INTERSECTION OF ROADWAY OFTEN FREQUENTED BY PANHANDLERS. SHE WAS THREATENED BY TWO OTHER BEGGARS WHO FELT THEIR TURF WAS BEING INVADED. SHE REMAINED, AT THE LOCATION, FOR TWO HOURS AND COLLECTED $30 . AFTER ANALYING THE EXPERIMENT, MY CONCLUSION WAS—THE HOMELESS MAY RECEIVE ALL THEIR NECCESITIES AT NEARBY SHELTERS. THE MAIN REASON FOR BEGGING IS TO PURCHASE WHAT THE SHELTERS DO NOT OFFER—BOOZE AND DRUGS. THERE IS NO REASON TO FEEL GUILT FOR REFUSING TO OFFER CASH TO PANHANDLERS.

  35. I have to panhandle for a living right now. I am polite to EVERYONE. I never turn down food, generally eating it on the spot. I’d love to get McD’s coupons, gift cards for Safeway, et., but no one’s given me those, except for a fellow bum who gave me one for $35(!) for Jack In The Box; I ate on that for a week.

    I try to be the panhandler I’d like to be panhandled by. Polite, friendly, and never condemning even when some of you tell me to go to hell – the present financial collapse will have you in your own hell soon enough lol!

    The IRS won’t let me work or have a bank account. I’m in limbo for a year or two until my IRS debt is old enough to discharge through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Then I will be employable again. But in the meantime, it’s the underground economy for me, don’t worry, I write down all I make in a diary and file my taxes and will pay ’em if I owe.

    I hustle hard. I have to to come up with $20/night rent, food, bus fare, etc. Since I don’t smoke or drink and know how to eat cheaply, the money is used well. But I still have to hustle for it.

    My big SCAM is, I don’t want to panhandle any longer than I have to, so I’m hustling extra hard to get an instrument to play on the street for tips. Yes, I want to move up.

    The shelters are less than useless. They’re cold disease-filled dens of drugs and crime. A person is better off making a “rabbit hole” for themselves or finding some stealthy place to stay, or hustling a bit and paying for cheap housing on the underground market like I do right now.

    Probably half of you will end up homeless during some time of your life – may you get treated better than you treat others.

  36. I visited SF two years ago and I got very astonished to see so much beggers out in the streets.

    I had just left NYC where there was no beggers what so ever. So I tried to find out why the begger problem in SF had grown to this extent.

    I found out from one of the city guides that the begger problem occered and escalated when the city offered some very generous welfare services for the homeless. And, even if it sounds cynical, but the more generous welfare system there is, the more people tend,from here and there to benefit from this.

    I come from Sweden, a welfare state in a class of its own. But, as gentle and considerate such a state may seem, we have HUGE problems with a hundred of thousands refugees who just entered to our country and stay here to benefit from our welfare system. About 40-60 percent of them don’t contribute at all to the state, working or do service of any kind.

    And the refugees come from Somali and Afghanistan especielly, about 50 percent of them are illiterates. And now people from Syria, Libya and Egypt are coming to Sweden.

    It is a well known fact that there exists certain instructions to follow when seeking for asylum in Sweden.

    But the problems with increased crime, especially violence and sex crimes, just get worse every year. And the city of Malmö now is known all over the world for its anti- semitism. The backround lie in the fact that Malmö inhibits about 50 thousands Muslims. The Jews flee after being attacked and harassed a number of times by Muslims.

    I hate to tell you this, but there exists a naiv conception of how the welfare systems work. It’s built within the very heart of it, that everyone looses in the end.

  37. I think that a home foreclosure can have a significant effect on the debtor’s life. Mortgage foreclosures can have a 6 to a decade negative effect on a borrower’s credit report. Any borrower having applied for home financing or any loans for example, knows that your worse credit rating is actually, the more challenging it is to get a decent mortgage. In addition, it could affect the borrower’s capability to find a really good place to let or rent, if that turns into the alternative homes solution. Interesting blog post.