Handouts and the homeless

By From page A4 | July 01, 2014

I guess we have just one more reason to”Celebrate Davis.”

I’m referring to the front-page article in the June 24 Davis Enterprise titled “No handouts for homeless on street.”

According to the article, there has recently emerged a group of local business organizations, city representatives, social service providers and even religious groups whose purpose is to “tackle the problem of homelessness and increased panhandling in Davis.” After reading more, it became clear that this group’s primary goal is not so much “tackle homelessness” as it is to “tackle increased panhandling” and the increased presence of the homeless.

Davis police Lt. Paul Doroshov was quoted as saying that giving handouts to the homeless will result in an increase in “individuals coming to Davis for ‘easy money.’ ” The article goes on to say that there has been a significant rise in panhandling and “visibility of … people who appear to be homeless and aggressive panhandling with it.” The stakeholders group maintains that instead of giving to people on the street, Davisites should give to local organizations that serve this population.

No doubt that Davis has joined the “Handouts Don’t Help” campaign that is spreading throughout the state. In Redding, Handouts Don’t Help group members ask businesses to place a poster in their windows featuring a homeless man holding a sign that reads “Don’t Feed My Habit.” The truth is that the majority are homeless because they have lost their job, are mentally ill or physically disabled, making it difficult to hold down a job.

I’m very glad that the city of Davis is making efforts to encourage its citizens to support local food, shelter, mental health service programs that our poor depend upon. People also should feel free to give to the needy they meet on the street.

Ellen Cohen


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