Why I Don’t Give Money To Homeless People And What I Do Instead
Sunday morning a body was found on the sidewalk right across the street from the studios. We don't have all the facts yet as to what killed this man, but here is what is believed to be true at this point according to the Billings Gazette:
- This man was likely a transient
- The elements were likely a factor
At this point, it looks like this was a homeless man who froze to death. Even if that turns out to not be the case here, it is certainly the case more times than it needs to be. Many of us are not that far away from being homeless. Most of the people I know are either renters or still paying a mortgage. If the money stops coming in, the clock starts ticking on how long you can sustain your current lifestyle.
I try not to judge others, but I'm only human. It's hard for me not to be judgemental when I see one guy holding up a sign for Little Cesar's Pizza, likely making minimum wage, and another guy across the street holding up a sign asking me for money. Both doing essentially the same thing, but only one for an honest wage.
I see people hand off cash to these people with signs, but that is something you won't catch me doing. Not because I am heartless, but because I have made a generalization about people in that situation: Homeless people are not good with money. It might not be true every time, but it's typically a pretty safe bet.
So, if you're not going to give money to them, but you are sympathetic to their plight, what can you do? Give that money to an organization that actually puts it to good use. Things like food, shelter, job placement...any group that helps fellow human beings survive and get back on their feet.
That may be your church, or one of the many charitable organizations battling poverty, homelessness and the mental illnesses and addictions that often lead them on the path of self destruction.
This man was on the same block as MRM. At first, I wondered if they had turned him away since they do have policies about not letting people in under the influence, but the article linked above suggests that the policies change when the weather gets lethal.
Montana Rescue Mission will be feeding a lot of people Christmas dinner this year. A good dinner costs them a little over two bucks per person. If I'm going to give money to truly help people, I like to know what it's going to do, so that's where my contribution will go this year.