Panhandling is a challenging issue faced by cities of all sizes, and one that affects Memphis as well. The experience of numerous professionals and service agencies finds that money given to panhandlers often only enables self-destructive behaviors like alcoholism and drug addiction. One former panhandler and addict has even stated, "Giving money to a panhandler is like giving a gun to someone who is suicidal."
Downtown Memphis Commission recommends not giving money to panhandlers. A better way to help is to donate to charities and organizations with outreach programs that truly help the homeless and needy.
The biggest misconception about panhandlers is that they are homeless. In fact, the vast majority of panhandlers are NOT homeless, and the vast majority of homeless do NOT panhandle. Generally speaking, panhandlers are strangers that approach you on the street to hustle you for money, which will most likely be used to buy drugs or alcohol.
It is important to note that street vendors, outdoor performers and other people providing a legitimate service with a valid permit are not panhandlers.
According to studies, giving money to panhandlers does not help those in need because:
To report panhandling issues,
call 901-575-0540 or email davis [at] downtownmemphis [dot] com
The New Yorker magazine