Panhandling is not an issue unique to downtown or Salt Lake City - it is a problem in communities across the Wasatch Front and across the nation. Every problem has a solution. Decide to help fight homelessness in a way that benefits the entire community.
This project was started based on the reality that no one ever panhandled their way out of homelessness!
There is a better way to help the less fortunate in our community; our overarching goal with project #HandupNotHandout is to get resources to the right people in our community who can make the biggest impact.
Contrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one and the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.
What to Say to Panhandlers
Be nice to panhandlers, but don’t give them any money. When someone asks for spare change on the street, the best response is no response or a simple, polite “no.” Panhandling is usually a business enterprise. As the business becomes less profitable, the number of panhandlers on Salt Lake City streets will also go down.
Confronting panhandlers can lead to other more serious problems. Panhandlers may become aggressive if challenged and conversations can give panhandlers more opportunities to ask for money.
If a panhandler follows you, touches you, makes threatening or violent gestures, blocks your path or engages in any behavior that makes you feel threatened or unsafe call the police.
If you encounter a panhandler that you believe is truly in need of immediate services, contact the HOST hotline at 801-799-3035 or Volunteers of America Homeless Outreach at 801-519-9721.
How You Can Help
Instead of giving money to panhandlers, consider making a donation to a homeless service provider. You will feel confident that you are doing your part to help other people, and that your resources are being used to help people who are truly in need. Then you can know you've given, without being taken.
Downtown social service providers include:
Catholic Community Services: Weigand Homeless Day Center
St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall / Dinner at Vinny's
The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake
Volunteers of America
The Road Home
The Fourth Street Clinic
A complete list of services available statewide can be found at http://www.211ut.org/