Will Andersen rakes in up to $200 an hour begging with the help of his dog. He’s not even homeless (though he was for three years): He rents his own room!
Another beggar said, “There are other spots New York where people get hundred-dollar bills. I could go over to Fifth Avenue and make $150 before lunch.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, “One of the quickest ways to get rid of [panhandlers] is not to give to them.”
To his credit, Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed — saying it’s best to instead give to a nonprofit or call 311 to request services.
Give cash, and you encourage begging. Worse, those who need real help will have less reason to seek it.
Still, critics pounced: “If [Bratton] thinks the number of people in need is going to diminish because people don’t give, he’s mistaken,” homelessness activist Mary Brosnahan says. “You have to follow your conscience.”
The truly homeless — whether drunks, druggies, mentally ill or those just facing financial hardship — need real help.