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Posted on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor task force: Don't give money directly to downtown's panhandlers

By Lizzy Alfs


A panhandler stands outside businesses on the corner of E. Liberty and Maynard streets in 2011 holding a plastic cup for change and a cigarette.

Melanie Maxwell |

You don’t want your money to support a drug or alcohol habit.

That’s the message at the center of an awareness campaign that kicked off in Ann Arbor this week to discourage people from giving money directly to panhandlers.

It also provides education on Washtenaw County’s services for homeless individuals and people with addictions.

The campaign is an outcome of the Mayor’s Street Outreach Task Force, which reconvened in late 2010 to look at aggressive panhandling and other issues facing the downtown area.

In a 42-page report that was presented to Ann Arbor City Council last March, the task force recommended the Mayor’s Downtown Marketing Task Force undertake an expanded role to work with residents, merchants, service providers and the city to provide a safe and clean downtown.

One of the results: This educational marketing campaign to provide people with information on free services available to those in need.

“The goal is very positive: embrace the generosity of our community and encourage people to direct money to the agencies that are in need of support and in need of assistance,” explained Susan Pollay, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority and member of the outreach task force.

Posters and small informational cards were created with money donated from downtown merchant associations. The materials are being distributed at downtown area businesses this month with the associations’ representatives and Interim Police Chief John Seto.

The campaign was originally set to kick off in June 2011, but Pollay said there was a time lapse because the Downtown Marketing Task Force wasn't regularly meeting when the 42-page report was presented. The marketing task force began meeting again late last summer.

The poster, which was designed by Dawn Farm, reads: “Want to really help? You don’t want your $$ to support a drug or alcohol habit! Ann Arbor has services for homeless individuals and people with addictions. Make sure your money works toward a solution!”


Educational posters and cards are being handed to downtown area businesses this month to discourage people from giving money to panhandlers.

Lizzy Alfs |

The card adds: “Ann Arbor is a generous community, and strives to provide options for all — especially those in need. Our community supports a broad range of free services to those who are homeless, addicted or experiencing economic hardship. There are better — more complete — options for panhandlers, that are provided free at several agencies throughout the community.”

The card has a list of agencies and phone numbers that provide shelter, sobriety assistance and places where free meals are available.

The list includes: Housing Access for Washtenaw County, Delonis Center, Salvation Army Staples Center, Ozone House, Safehouse Center, Veterans with a Housing Crisis, Dawn Farm Street Outreach, Home of New Vision, Project Outreach, The Engagement Center, St. Andrew's breakfast, and Food Gatherer's Community Kitchen at the Delonis Center.

The task force also launched a website — — as a portal to local nonprofit human service agencies.

Pollay said the campaign attempts to discourage people from giving money directly to panhandlers because it’s not likely the money will be used for rent or helpful services.

“We brought panhandlers to the task force and asked what they were doing…we pretty overwhelmingly heard, ‘We’re doing it to get high, we’re doing it to get drunk, we’re doing it to get a bottle,” she said.

“As a community, we’re not helping people to get that bottle. We’re helping them more to ensure they have a safe place to sleep at night…medical attention…a meal. Making sure the dollars go to the services to help that person,” she continued.

She said panhandling has periodically been an issue in Ann Arbor — just like every other downtown area. The difference in Ann Arbor, she said, is the response to the problem.

“We’re Ann Arborites so our response to this is different. We heard there were some communities that drafted legislation to make it illegal to panhandle; that would never be the Ann Arbor way. We’re a very generous community,” she said.

Mayor John Hieftje said downtown Ann Arbor's problems with aggressive panhandling seemed to spike in summer 2010 when an event known as Punk Week brought a number of transient types to town and things got "a little out of control" for a while.

At the time, former Police Chief Barnett Jones told Ann Arbor City Council that aggressive panhandling was the No. 1 crime that occurred in the community during the summer.

Aggressive panhandlers also were out on the streets last summer, when several business owners blamed panhandling for hurting sales at their stores.

Hieftje said the problem is "much better now.”

"We heard some expression of support from the State Street Area Association at the last (Downtown Marketing Task Force) meeting and other associations seem to be saying the same thing — that they're appreciative of the new police officers we're seeing in the downtown area, the new emphasis (on downtown police patrols)," he said. "I think we've really gone a long ways to head off any kind of a surge in aggressive panhandling and things just seem to be really settled down."

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

The funniest part of the story is Susan Pollay weighing in. Ironic, since there's no bigger panhandler in the city than the DDA.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

I fully admit that this is only a theory, not something I can back up (hey, what's new in the comments section, right?) but it seems like panhandlers have become more aggressive and prevalent since the smoking ban. I'm not advocating changing that, but now they do have a captive audience of smokers outside all the bars. And who better to ask for money and smokes than people who are stuck in one place and have been drinking and smoking?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Reality - ""We brought panhandlers to the task force and asked what they were doing…we pretty overwhelmingly heard, 'We're doing it to get high, we're doing it to get drunk, we're doing it to get a bottle," she said." Pretending otherwise is just trying to ignore reality. These people do know where the free food programs are already. Last time I checked it was not my job to support every single person who does not want to work. If you wish to, it is a free country, just stop telling everyone else what they should be doing.

Laura Jones

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

And the mentally ill who are self medicating? let them rot too?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

I agree with Roy Munson. Nobody needed a task force to come up with this. And the solution, how is that going to end the panhandling? Sure, educate the public, ask them to give to aid organizations, but is that going to end the panhandling? No, it will continue. Do what I do. When they ask me for money, I say, "I was going to ask you for money."


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

These are the same people that went along with the construction of the Shelter and when concerns were raised 10 years ago about this potential problem they ignored them. Now they need a political shelter to justify their current action, hence the Mayor's Task Force. The former police chief admitted that when he served in another city, he encouraged people, who were down on their luck to come to come ot Ann Arbor because of the services and resources here. Now we are faced with a problem that will potentially criminalized many of these individuals who will be incarcerated in the County jail. But that's okay. It helps to pay for the construction of that jail and in the meantime, we all pay for what we consider to be the nuisance panhandling.

Life in Ypsi

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

While it's a good theory to give funds to agencies that help those in need, there is no guarantee everyone in need will be helped. As someone who had a setback during a job loss I can tell you it was no easy task trying to find help at agencies that are supposedly helping. Besides the nightmare red tape of paperwork to be filled out, I also had to contend with rude and unfriendly people. I can't tell you how many times I tried to get food from a food pantry and went home empty handed. The staff were oblivious to people cutting in line and would allow people to line up 1-2 hours early before the food giveaways. Arrive on time and one is out of luck. Thank goodness I am employed again. I have to wonder though should I ever fall on harm times again would I be more successful standing at a highway ramp!


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

That's why the agencies and ways we can help people need to be focus. We need to find better ways to prevent people from sinking low first, but also have things in place to help anyone out IF they need a little help getting back on track. Not panhandling. That's not the answer. lol

Paul Wiener

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I rarely give money to panhandlers unless I'm in an unusually great mood, but the idea of suggesting I give whatever pennies I can afford to a place that will take "administrative costs" from the top bothers my waywardly charitable nature even more. Either you give to these poor, irritating souls or you don't. Why is a charitable institution any more of a guarantee that charity is well-directed and well-spent? Endless examples prove otherwise. Meanwhile, the police and the U-M should make every effort to keep these people off State St. and Liberty nearby - these people can be disgusting, intimidating, embarrassing and take advantage of many Ann Arborites' (especially young students') generally passive, carefree, frightened, guilty, cave-in-to-the inevitable nature.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

only in politically correct Ann Arbor would you need a committee, 40 page report and money for a campaign to deal with the (#1 crime) panhandlers which decides to put it on the citizens (victims) to deal with the panhandlers themselves by not giving them money. make panhandling illegal, they will eventually stop being aggressive (which means HARRASSING). also enforce Jaywalking while you are at it.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Intermittent positive reinforcement leads to greater learning...Psych 101. How about a T-shirt that says Don't Ask...I gave at the office.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

The most ridiculous panhandling situation I can remember in A2, was about 10 years ago. I was walking along State St. downtown when a (well known to the homeless community) panhandler approached me. First, he asked me for money, which I declined. Second, since I was smoking a cigarette, he asked for one of those, which I also declined because it was (truthfully) my last one. Thirdly...he asked to hit my cigarette, and to let him "do it now"! I couldn't help but laugh as I walked away. As for the "do not donate" advertising initiative, I think they could have used that money for actual support for the homeless. People will choose to donate/not to donate, and it shouldn't come from an A2 government initiative, where money is wasted on six-figure art projects and five-figure crosswalks because people aren't smart enough to cross the street on their own.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

The Ann Arbor government should make panhandling illegal, and prosecute offenders using a fast-track system. Sentencing should include community service and treatment and drug testing. For recidivists, boot camp with an emphasis on fitness training. While this program is being carried out, all who are able should redouble their contributions to charitable agencies for the needy.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 8:56 a.m.

I only give to Arthur, cause he promises me he doesnt use drugs or alcohol. Plus he is the hardest working panhandler this side fo the Mississippi


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

'cuse me sah but do you have 50 cents?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

I don't think it's just "panhandling" in general. There's always been panhandlers in Ann Arbor. It might be annoying, but as many have pointed out, you CAN usually just keep walking. We've had harmless weirdo figures drifting around for decades. But what's troubling to most people, I think, is this recent rise in the number of panhandlers who are decidedly more aggressive and/or systematically making the rounds, jumping in and out of vehicles. If you actually leave your house regularly, you'll notice it IS getting worse and worse in this area. If citizens notice this, the police have to, too. Seems like you sure as heck should be able to stop people from running a racket of intimidating begging in town. That's what I find unacceptable. We don't need a task force spreading info to people who already know what's up - we need one that targets these specific aggressive, oddly organized (lol) types. There needs to be stricter language in local law concerning what is and isn't acceptable. And perhaps citizens need to be more diligent about reporting more extreme problems they've had. (Being asked is one thing - being cussed out, grabbed, or stalked down is another.)


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

Dawn Farm has a tough attitude. And it WORKS. Life is about choices. At the Farm, you make a choice. Pull yourself up with the assistance they provide, or you can get out and most likely die. I've known several people who have succeeded there. Ive seen people that have gone thru the hell hole of addiction and now dedicate their lives to helping others. Live on the street and that's your choice if you don't use the resources that are available to everyone. Sorry. But it's a choice. Nothing in life is given, you must work for it, and to work for it you must want it. Want nothing, get nothing. Don't ask me for a buck.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:20 a.m.

The more beggars you push off the streets without aid, there will be an increase in breaking and entering and robberies. It would be wonderful, if we could follow in the footsteps of Mother Theresa who walked the streets and took people in and tried to help the poor. I love the stories where she would attend $1K a plate dinners of the rich in her honor, scold them and leave without eating, but always taking their money to use toward her ministry. Maybe the City's art industry could teach these panhandlers to dance and sing and entertain the rich while they wine and dine of the sidewalks of AA or have the panhandlers line up and march together at timed intervals with their hats held out up and down the streets to music while the rich try to toss money into their hats from the sidelines as amusement. I think the mentality of AA could really get into that and accept it. They could scoff and toss their money at them--see if they can get the coin in the hat. Close the streets in the evening on Main Street and have organized panhandling -- let the bums run around with hats like a circus ... oh what fun to watch a bum scramble to the quarter that is ready to go down the drain. Come join the AA Amusement Coliseum on Main Street. Hope City Council gets wind of this idea! The City where the lions sleep with the lambs!

Michigan Man

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

W - a quick fact check - A2 City Council is too busy solving the dilema in syria, egypt, middle east, Washington DC and figuring out public art - they have no time for common problems like panhandling - this is too low level and not worldly enough for the smartest people in the nation.

Laura Jones

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

We threw people out, sorry, "liberated" the mentally ill from asylums, casting them freely to the street to be free and prosper. No health care, no medications, no mandatory doctors. New generations of mentally ill have so many rights to be so free that their own families cannot help them unless the person wishes it. No surprise they do not, since they are mentally ill. As a society we have decided that they should be free and that we should not provide any health care, medication or living facilities for them, we expect them to provide these for themselves. Now we blame the homeless for their predicament. These bad people are too pushy, smelly and dirty, won't work (would you hire them?) and are a burden to society (namely we don't want to support them via taxes or even voluntary handouts). What then should they do? Go somewhere and die quietly? Steal to eat and then we can incarcerate them, adding to the already phenomenal housing of mentally ill in our prisons already? I guess if we make it a law we can just incarcerate them for panhandling. This is no answer at all, this is window dressing for us. Completely repugnant and self serving.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

If I were a cruel person (which I am sometimes) I would hold up a $5 and a bottle of tequila and ask which one they wanted ... and give them whichever they choose ... obviously the "bottle of tequila" would not actually have tequila in it but something similar, ok maybe water :)


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

Folks, time to realize that dollars are fungible.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

I have never given money to a homeless person with an expectaion as to what they should do with it. Seems silly. If I give a dollar I give a dollar, they can do with it what they choose. If you have a problem with it/them, don t give them a dollar. Not rocket science people and not nearly as big of a deal as this makes it sound.

Robert Hughes

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

If the panhandlers are using the money to buy alcohol and are alcoholics; then why not make it illegal to sell alcohol to them?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Is a panhandler purchasing something still a panhandler?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : midnight

I spend alot of money downtown ejoying great restuarants.NO more...... Walking out and being hassled for money ruins my night so I stopped going downtown to eat......I suggest imposing fines to the panhandlers comparable to what San Antonio does I believe.If they cant pay the fine they can sweep up the sidewalks......Speaking of side walks.. I would like to see the restuarants power wash them after a busy weekend and also make them all have flowers outside.....Reroute trucks and buses memorial day thru labor day say 4pm -3pm weekends.....and last but not least .have u of M pay A@ a congestion fee for running all their buses on city streets.... Gee may I should run for office...


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

you know our "police force" isn't worth much more than gouging A2 citizens most the time ... why don't they do the same we do to animals we don't want around ... pick them up and drive them and drive them out to another town :)


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

Once years back, during a UM art history class, Shaky Jake wandered into the lecture hall. The professor invited him up to the stage to perform. (To be fair, it actually *was* a course on DaDa and Surrealism.) Great time was had by all; I never forgot that professor's openmindedness.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

sounds more like a patronizing , free "performing monkey "show by a lecturer who didnt have his notes together. been there --done that.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

I am tired of seeing the same folks every day for years and tired of Arthur asking me 3-4 times a day for money. Maybe they should post signs reminding folks to not give money to the panhandlers.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Ugh. The same old panhandler "conversation". It's going to get ugly on this thread. I'm outa here!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

i seen a guy at the Jackson exit. leave go to westgate parking lot. get into a suv and drive away. i seen on guy park his bike at the exit ramp. later while i was in rite aid. he was buying a fifth of liquor. what is the best part is they do not pay income tax on what they make. JUST SAY NO!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Oh, frequent commenters, please. Criminalizing panhandling may be infringing on protected speech. In any case it will fill jails for no good reason. Panhandling needs to be INEFFECTIVE then it will go away. "Just say no thanks" is a great suggestion by someone who doesn't know any bleeding hearted kind empathetic people who can't resist the urge to try and help others. This awareness campaign would benefit greatly from BILLBOARDS. Go all the way! A social worker on Fresh Air one time had a great idea: every time you have the urge to dish out change, move the money from one pocket to the other. Put that money aside and donate to a shelter.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

THANK YOU! It's not about "not wanting to help people". It's about realizing this will not really help someone - even if they are in need. If you want to help, there are much much better ways. Giving money to panhandlers just causes more problems - for everyone.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Just stop giving them money and they will go away, to Ypsilanti. That is what Ann Arbor wants, them to just get out of their snight.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

Although i think you were tying to be mean, i'll thank you for the compliment. I have always found the people of Ypsi to be much nicer, kinder, good-hearted and a great deal less arrogant.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

My wife and I were just discussing how it would be nice to have cards with places like this and the BackDoor Food pantry (, but we wanted to go one step further and have it include enough AATA bus fare to get the person to one of these places. If the card was worth bus fare it wouldn't just get thrown away. I can see how if cards like this were sold at a discount they could be abused, but I'd pay the full fare price to have something to give to a needy person and really help them without the worry that it would go towards a drug addiction.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

I'd like to know how much this "Task-Force" cost the taxpayers of Ann Arbor?? Here we go, picking on the poorest people again.....Most of us are intelligent enough to know where the money may go if we give it to panhandlers. It is an individual choice and I could care less what they spend it on! Plenty of working people spend their money on their money on the same what. This article is about getting the homless off downtown streets so they are not visible. Period. I'll be downtown this afternoon, and I'll make sure I give a panhandler some money!!


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

Lilly. Leave your house (bubble) much? 10 years working on State has been an increasingly unpleasant endeavour.

Sabra C Briere

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

The Mayor's Downtown Marketing Task Force doesn't cost the City (or the tax payers) anything. Folks who attend do so as volunteers; funds raised for this 'awareness' campaign came from generous contributions from downtown area associations. Labor on the poster/cards was donated. The Mayor's Street Outreach Task Force, which recommended the actions now being taken by the Downtown Marketing Task Force, also didn't cost the City or the tax payers anything. It was entirely volunteer -- unless you count my time, as your employee (on Council). All the work done by committees, commissions and task forces -- with few exceptions -- is done by volunteers -- your neighbors and friends. Some staff time is used to assist, making certain that those volunteers understand the law and the City's ordinances. Sabra Briere


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Jack, once you give a panhandler money, it becomes their money, not yours. Do you understand? I have lived in A2 for 40 years and have never been harassed for money by anyone.

Jack Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

"Plenty of working people spend their money on the same what." Yes Lilly, plenty of working people do, with their own money. People who don't come to A2 to harass others for cash. Working people who don't hang out on the streets and drive away business. Working people who pay taxes, and are part of the community. Do you see the difference?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

homeless....I can spell and..I meant Plenty of working people spend their money on the same what.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

That "outreach" task force has no problem supporting the "fine wine and dining" of the affluent through taxpayer dollars but begrudge a homeless person a campsite, a nip? I think they just don't want to see the "riff raff" while they wine and dine each other while thinking of those "creative revenue generating" ideas.

Jack Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Money going to improve the lives of tax-payers instead of freeloaders, drug addicts, and people who refuse to be a part of society! The outrage!

martini man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Oh NO !!! And all this time I thought the panhandlers were using this money to regain control of their lives. On a more serious note ...when folks start refusing in large numbers to "donate" , will the panhandlers get even more aggressive and abusive??? Many feel they are entitled to your money.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

No, they will go elsewhere if they can. Why did you think "many feel entitled to your money"? Where did you get that idea?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

My choice, I can give them something or I can say no thank you. Not that big a deal. Lived in or around Ann Arbor all my life.

Michigan Man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

Bill - Totally agree! Do not let the academic, left, elite Ann Arbor crowd tell you how to act or what to say to be politically correct. You are free - it is America!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

I also have another comment...I've been through this tough life. I tried getting into shelters and let me tell u alot of them full with a 3-6 month waitlist. so they say help these people by giving them a list of homeless sheelters so what they can get turned away! its crazy..i can admit that yes it is bothering at times and some make a mess. But remember they are people!

Jack Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Maybe they should stay in their neck of the woods and stay out of ours?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

How many, if any of these panhandlers live at CTN?

Sabra C Briere

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Camp Take Notice and MISSION have a policy that forbids panhandling. for more information.

Joe Hood

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

I generally give money to the folks in the streets. I give what they ask me for: A woman in the streets of Portland, OR asked for $6 so she could get a hotel room and got it. However, the guy in Detroit, who said he had an unseen broken down car and needed to take his pregnant girlfriend to the hospital, and had quick answers to every question I asked him got nothing. Someone asks for me for spare change, I get them on the flip flop. I worked in downtown DC and got to know a lot of the homeless folks and most, if not all, had some sort of mental issue going on. If you're used to dealing with people face to face, the human interaction doesn't hurt that much! Do I see an issue with panhandling, yes, because it makes people uncomfortable. If people are uncomfortable, they avoid the discomfort, which means avoiding the downtown. Look how Rudy Gulliani brought back NYC, he cleaned up the streets. My solution is similar to someone who mentioned earlier about a lack of spirituality. My hope would be rather than government trying to come up with a solution (which is always doomed to failure because, among other things, other local governments dump their folks here) is to allow the churches to do the work they want to do.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

I some what agree with this article.. it makes people look rude and uncaring. I understand that yes they maybe getting drugs and a drink. But there is also that chance that they are not. But also people are acting like you hand them 10-20 dollars everyone knows u usually only give a dollar or two or your spare change. It doesnt really bother me. All you have to do is walk by them and say no thank you. Or just keep walking. Some of the comments i've read people are acting and talking like the panhandlers arent even people at all. They are part of this community. They are real with real problems and shouldnt be ingnored. Thats just how i feel about the situation. I also dont understand why we need a task force for this either. Why not have people go out and convince them to go to a shelter or rehab. Just try to help them. But thats all im done now :)

Dog Guy

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Although I occasionally am guilty of giving a bum a few bucks for drink and smoke (I'm not a savage.), all sociological data indicate that panhandling is almost exclusively encouraged by rightwingers. True Ann Arborites support the homeless/bathless/witless only through government programs funded with other people's money. And some of this money actually does trickle down through unionized compassion to the impecunious.

Michigan Man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Dog - I am a solid right wing nut type. I only give money to panhandlers when they do something for me in their panhandling work/career such as opening doors, running errands, helping me cross the street safely, picking up garbage, etc.

Hesh Breakstone

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

I was just reminded as well that perhaps some of us who don't remember Shaky Jake need to get a clue....


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:49 a.m.

@P: Maybe... but he was also friendly and stayed out of people's way. I could be wrong, but I don't remember him ever cussing anybody out or following them. It's not urban legend that people actually loved running into him. lol If all panhandlers were that easy going, I doubt anybody would care.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

shaky jake was a drug addict with a schtick. the rest is urban feel good legend.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

If you think giving a panhandler money will buy your way into heaven, then go first by giving your weekly paycheck to them.

Hesh Breakstone

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Regardless of the fact that cash contributions to panhandlers and homeless people may be used to fund a drug or alcohol issue... these very same donations may also be used to feed a homeless person and perhaps, just perhaps connected individuals as well which could be children. We can't know and in the absence of specific information as to what one may do with the funds that they may receive from folks such as I am not ready or willing to "fish with a net" so-to-speak and cut off all homeless folks because some may spend their money on something that others do not agree with. Additionally - so what? More specifically it's not easy being homeless and as the American dream continues to be less attainable for more and more people, Wall Street and corporate America continue to buy votes and policy under the protection of "citizen's united..." who's going to dictate what a homeless person may do with the very limited funds that they receive? Last month I was asked to give something to a homeless woman who in return proactively offered to give me something that she had written. I took the piece of paper and carried it around with me all day thinking that I owe it to the homeless to at least read the thing at some point and hear what she had to say. It was a poem, a very well written poem with the repeated theme that this young woman simply wanted someone, anyone.... to remember her. As such I will remember this homeless young woman and I will also remember every day that homelessness is everyone's problem not just an issue for those who our society has seemingly left behind.

Hesh Breakstone

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

I thought that one of the hallmarks of being a republican was the idea of personal responsibility as well as a love of liberty. I'm no republican.... but I am taking some personal responsibility for the issue of homelessness when I contribute to a homeless person? Additionally am I not free to do with my funds what ever I please as part of my liberty? I'm not asking anyone else to do anything although the record numbers of homeless today are very traceable to the "great recession" in which the right tanked the global economy, put tens of millions of folks out of work and at times for years too, and widened the divide between the wealthy and everyone else. I just think that this task force needs to get a clue and an decide what they want to be when they grow up - advocates for the homeless or defenders of a downtown A2 in which they need not feel guilty after that prime filet or great northern Italian dish that they just ate when they see a homeless person hoping to not go to sleep in the gutter hungry....


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 4:45 a.m.

There are better ways to help people. There are better ways to help your family if you are in need. Panhandling is usually NOT folks trying to get their lives together. That's part of the problem. I see what you're saying, but... most are not innocently exchanging heartfelt poetry for money. Some threaten to kick your children for not giving them your change after you come out of a store downtown. lol Just sayin'.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

please stand on the corner every payday and dole out your check.

Clare Riesterer

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4 p.m.

I don't really think that advertising is going to help eliminate panhandling. Theoretically flying a sign is the same as flying a billboard or passing out a flyer. Perhaps we should accept panhandlers as integral pieces of the tasty treat that is State Street! Seriously. It seems to me that according to this task force, the only members of the community who deserve to spend their pay on alcohol are-gasp-the ones who work inside a building.

Clare Riesterer

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Also... John Butler is an Australian Musician and member of The John Butler Trio. Did you know that this now commercially successful man got his start by playing for money on street corners? Not all "panhandlers" (as they are referred to in this article) spend their earnings in socially deplored ways. Funny huh?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Ms Pollay, I am a home owning and tax paying Ann Arborite and I would support making panhandling illegal. I doubt I am alone in my opinion.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

atticus f. free speech ok then they should pay tax on what they take in. the people whom make around $2..75 pay on tips. yes i am sure not all of it but have to report. so why should they not. it is against the law to not pay taxes. yup you can say donations but it is a job to me when they do it every day. they smoke at $5.00 a pack. i am sure it cost less for off brands. i have seen a young girl at the Jackson exit. ride her bike and come back with food from MacDonald. give the bag to the guy at the exit. after she went under the bridge he threw it away. i am a firm believer that it is a RACKET! some are needy but how do you tell the difference. i also wounder also how many come of outside the city to work the streets and exits?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

@madeleine, i could be wrong, but i think pbehjatnia was being sarcastic towards and their sometimes arbitrary deleting of comments and in fact was agreeing with you, at least that was my interpretation.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

pbehjatnia, you say you don't attack someone personally, even though you don't agree with their opinion, yet you say i am bad and will be summarily deleted by the staff for mentioning the crack house on huron? are you always so discriminating on who you will/will not attack? by the way, I'm not bad. just ask my family, or would that clash with your preconceived notion of me? hmmmmm?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

@atticus: i do not view panhandling as free speech. i view it as public nuisance and a hinderance to maintaining local business. i do not care for you opinion but i don't attack you personally. i guess your nonjudgmental, omnipresent love for fellow citizens stops in the gutter with your money?

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

I pay property taxes in Ann Arbor as well, and have lived in Ann Arbor for over 30 years, and I believe that panhandling is a form of free speech. So if you cant deal with listening to what others have to say, then maybe you should just stay in your house.

Jack Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Far from it.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

They are Not "Illegal Panhandlers" Just " Undocumented Panhandlers" If it works for Immigration it works for Panhandling!

Roy Munson

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

So it took a study over many months and a 42 page report to determine that panhandlers use the money that people give them to buy booze and dope? lol.

martini man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

I wonder if the "study group" was funded by the taxpayer??? Almost a form of panhandling in itself.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

do not laugh. this is aa and we need to explore the issue thoroughly before we can begin to waver consistently...


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

RIGHT. lol Only took years upon years of people hopping in and out of cars, and panhandlers being delivered to key spots in area... good grief.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

A key point to keep in mind in a discussion like this is: there is often a difference between someone who fell on some bad times and is trying to get better vs someone panhandling just to scare (ha ha) up some money because it's easy to do. It seems a lot of people have no problem assisting the former... but the latter doesn't create as much compassion or empathy. I know not all panhandlers are jumping into limos at the end of the day, laughing at us. Some truly DO have a lot of troubles and ARE that desperate. But focusing on JUST this area... yes, there is a racket here. And THAT'S the problem I think most people are talking about. You have a lot of panhandlers who are CHOOSING to live the way they do. Which begs the question... are you REALLY helping the needy if you give them money? Or... are you just being had? And I think THAT'S why people are frustrated. Personally, I'm not going to assume everyone in need is a lazy good for nothing parasite. I'm always going to help those in need. But I'm going to do it through channels I know will help people who want to help themselves. Or - I'm going to assist those who truly need help because they truly cannot help themselves. Too many panhandlers out here I've spoken to about assistance programs, shelters, etc simply cut me off and say "HEY... I'M JUST TRYING TO GET A BREW!" If it comes down to someone rejecting society to the point of swearing at people or admitting they don't want anything other than a brew, well... I have to let that person pass. Or should I say - I have to just keep walking. I don't think that's heartless. You can't help someone who doesn't truly want help. I see that side of it. But having that... I hope people remember: there ARE people trying to improve their lives who WOULD greatly benefit from your help. Not every person in need is a scam artist. Just... a majority of the panhandlers in Ann Arbor and Ypsi are. lol


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

To simplify: Panhandling = usually bad. Assistance programs that help people return to point of helping themselves and becoming productive human beings = good. So focus on people in need who want to help themselves. Which usually means not giving money blindly to panhandlers.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

@pbehjatnia - A perfect example of helping someone in the community would be helping someone learn how to read. So they could absorb information properly then respond intelligently to things others have written. :-)


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

i can't stop sobbing. my heart has been touched to the bottom of my soul. how could we all forget that these parasites are just lost soles fallen on hard times? they are victims in a harsh world and we are perps for not wanting to be hassled and to give up hard earned cash. i think i'll call my pastor, rabbi and imam now to cleanse my soul.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Many people in this community and on this forum support drugs, want them legalized so we can "stop losing the war on drugs". Those same people don't like panhandlers bothering them and want to make laws to make panhandling be illegal. When you do drugs your chances of not being able to hold a job increase significantly. Most peopel who do drugs of aany kind cannot function well on a day to day basis. They convince themselves that they can but those around them who are sober know the true story. I can't figure this community out even though I've been living here a long time...........they support drugs, but don't support the panhandlers it creates?

Michigan Man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Mike - Very nice job in connecting the dots! Ann Arbor elite types dislike the panhandlers because it destroys the pristine academic/smartest people in the nation Ann Arbor image but these same folks head home after white collar Ann Arbor type jobs to smoke a joint while sipping some wine. This disequilibrium must be uncomfortable?

Jack Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Make panhandling illegal. TAXPAYERS and PROPERTY OWNERS are getting to a breaking point in dealing with these people. Sick to death of living in bum-mecca.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

So what other kinds of speech would you make illegal?

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Then move out of our city... There have been homeless around this city long before you got here. In other words, if you dont like "bum mecca" then why did you move here?... perhaps you thought you would move here, and then demand that the entire city change in order to suit your preferences.

wolfman jack

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

You must allow what you lack the will to prevent.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Making it illegal would cost us money for enforcement. If everyone (and get the message to the students) walked by with "No, thank you," then the issue might dwindle away for free. I do believe people deserve health care.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

For those of you who advocate making panhandling illegal, this will only create another problem. Remember the County jail that was built five years ago because of overcrowding? Well, by making panhandling illegal would add to this problem because is one is arrested for panhandling, they will be incarcerated. It cost about $65.00/day to house, feed, and supervise inmates and this does not include medication or other medical services if they need it. Because there are little or no rehabilitative services offered in the jail many of these individuals will return to the same activity upon release. So the cycle will continue. Ann Arbor does have a good network of service providers but not necessarily for those who are homeless. Several community members tried to voice this concern when the shelter was being planned but the same people on the Mayor's Task Force ignored the concerns of community residents and barreled ahead without addressing it at the time because they did not want to be viewed in a negative light and because it was a "pet" project of the County Administrator who was in the same network as members of this Task Force. Now that it has become a nuisance, the Mayor and other leaders surround themselves with a support system to insulate themselves from negative criticism.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

When the jail is full nobody gets time for a minor misdemeanor anyway. Ann Arbor chose this by opening the shelter. You have a shelter you are going to get homeless from all over and this is what they do during the times they are not there.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Make it a misdemeaner and fine them...uhhh...nevermind.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

I hand them a copy of the "Watchtower" and try to convert them...they never ask me twice...


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

good ... i do a similar thing with religious proselytizers ( only i say i'll give you 1 minute if you give me 10)....and to phone soliciters i ask for their #s and offer to call them back when they are eating dinner.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

But what did the Mayor's Task Force On All The Other Mayor's Task Forces have to say about it?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

Dingell is looking for help. Might try them?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

they said reelect hieftje cuz the U doesnt want to pay him full salary.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

I agree 100% with this article, as I see panhandling as doing nothing but fueling an addiction and not helping the person where he/she needs it. What I do find interesting are the numerous examples of "aggressive" panhandling being told. I am born and raised here in A2, and I have never ONCE had a homeless person do anything but walk away after I simply say "Sorry, I am not carrying any cash at the moment."

Andy T

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

I can tell you that in my case, being called something I won't repeat here for fear of being banned is what I would call aggressive. There's no need to call me anything because I decline to hand over my money...but what's been yelled at me is completely inappropriate.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

Adam, I've had the same experience. I've been walking through downtown Ann Arbor for many years, and have never seen "aggressive" panhandling. I wonder if some people think that having a stranger talk to you, even if they use a civil tone, is somehow "aggressive."

Andy T

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Honestly, you've been very luck then. I've lived here for 15 years and I've been called every name in the book by panhandlers after respectfully telling them I didn't have any cash. At first it was infrequent, but in the last few years it seems to have really ramped up. Now I never go downtown alone without headphones on so I can just not get in to it with them at all.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

The merchants and the mayor are not experts in homelessness or substance abuse. They are concerned with making downtown an ever more comfortable place to shop-- but we are living in uncomfortable times, when some people are desperate enough to beg us for money on the streets. Sure, lets give more to the organizations who help the poorest among us and try to get to the root causes of poverty and addiction, but let's keep our own humanity intact too, and spend a little time and some spare change to let a desperate human being know that we care about them. They're not "panhandlers," they're real people, suffering people. Ignore this campaign, and lets act like brothers and sisters, not shoppers.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

when i am spending money i am a shopper and one of the reasons local businesses are alive. bums are one of the reasons some local businesses have failed.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

The panhandlers know where they can get free food. They want alcohol and cigarettes. Make panhandling illegal and the problem will go away.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Here's an idea: Make panhandling illegal. End of story. As long as it's "legal" to panhandle, there will be problems. I have called the police twice for aggressive panhandlers at traffic intersections, and was told that it's not illegal to panhandle. They would only send a police car to the intersections where professional panhandlers were standing with signs if the panhandlers were standing in traffic lanes or walking in traffic lanes. Make panhandling illegal and it will go away.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

It used to be illegal but that law was found to be inappropriate in regard to speech and behavior. But aggressive panhandling, amounting to almost unarmed robbery was deemed ilegal and is enforceable. Problem is the jail is full and nobody gets jail for minor misdemeanors.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6 p.m.

You would honestly spend MY tax dollars to imprison an indavidual because you dont like the words that come out of his or her mouth? unbelievable! It's that sort of attitude that has turned this country into a police state...The attitude that you would rather lock a human being in jail than be annoyed.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

I have seen people give $$ to aggressive panhandlers because they obviously felt threatened. to these people I would say. DO NOT LET THEM INTIMIDATE YOU. Don't give them the power they seek to have over you, it's not as difficult as it seems. just walk away and if they follow you, don't hesitate to make a scene because the last thing that that man with the crutch(which, incidentally, he doesn't need, or maybe he does need it to get up the steps to the crack house on Huron where I've seen him go)wants is to draw undue attention. they're not as dangerous as they seem. furthermore, don't let anyone tell you that they haven't eaten in ? days. Ann Arbor has resources where No One has to go hungry. St. Andrew's on Division offer a free breakfast to anyone who walks through it's doors. The Delonis Center serves lunch AND dinner 5 days a week. there are also resources that one can tap into for clothing, shoes, greyhound tickets, etc., etc., etc.. To the panhandlers: Do NOT approach me for money. for anything. I didn't just step off the turnip truck yesterday and I'm not buying into your story just so you can support your addiction. If you want to commit suicide, that's your choice, but DO NOT EXPECT ME TO HELP YOU DO IT.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

pbehjatnia, your beef should be with the YMCA in that case... After all, the homeless center was in that area long before the YMCA RE-located there.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

oooo... you dared mention the drug house on huron between the care rental and yoga center.... you are bad and will be summarily deleted by the vigilant(e) staff.... despite the aapd acknowledging the house as a known drug destination across from the ymca which is full of children and a block away from the delonis which likes to house sex offenders on your dime....

Michigan Man

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

MB - Sure hope you are not in the chemical dependency/addiction medicine/recovery business!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Arthur knows some pretty good jokes. Maybe a bit crude but he does offer one and hey a buck for a good joke, why not.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Also, agencies like Dawn Farms have an attitude that 'if you dont want to get sober, you can just go die in the street', as if forcing others to be sober is more important than life itself. I give money to the homeless all the time, without judgement, because I dont know if that person wants to buy a new pair of sock, a pack of smokes, or batteries for a portable radio. It's not my job to assume that someone is a drug user or that they will spend the money on something they shouldn't.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:53 a.m.

Dawn Farm has a tough attitude. And it WORKS. Life is about choices. At the Farm, you make a choice. Pull yourself up with the assistance they provide, or you can get out and most likely die. I've known several people who have succeeded there. Ive seen people that have gone thru the hell hole of addiction and now dedicate their lives to helping others. Live on the street and that's your choice if you don't use the resources that is available to everyone. Sorry. But it's a choice. Nothing in life is given, you must work for it, and to work for it you must want it. Want nothing, get nothing. Don't ask me for a buck.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

i hope wear sunscreen so the glow from your halo doesnt do damage.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Even if you don't want to get sober, there are many agencies in town that will still feed you and clothe you or provide other items. Giving them money is just a bad idea.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

If you teach a man to fish......


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Ba Humbug!

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

The agencies that they recomend that we give money to, are just as likely to squander it. I learned that lesson after the 1500 Pauline incident, and will never donate to those causes again... unless I'm 100% sure the money will go to the homeless, as apposed to a 10 million dollar cash grab for a construction contractor. Besides, I'm apposed to the idea of some bueracrat choosing who gets help and who doesn't. I dont care if a person is a drug addict, or completely sober, I believe that everybody should have access food and shelter.

Atticus F.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

nekm1, I cannot single handedly solve the issue of homelessness by myself, nor should any 1 indavidual be required to...This is all the more reason that we need to come up with effective solutions as a community.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

then invite them to YOUR home. quit acting holier than thou, and put your home where you pen is.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

The University must get behind this initiative. Students are responsible for the greatest amount of "giving" to panhandlers in the campus/downtown area. Perhaps adding this information to the student orientation program would be helpful.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Dorothy, You have misses the point entirely. That kind of thinking only sustains the problem. I measure compassion and empathy by doing something to help my fellow human being overcome destruction behavior rather than perpetuating it. Give to the organizations that are in business to ultimately get these people on a path to some sort of prosperity.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Let's not teach the students to dull that part of themselves that realizes that people begging are fellow human beings in need. If we practice ignoring people who are asking us for help to our faces, we will become less and less capable of empathy and compassion.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

this also goes for the exit ramps. no diff between downtown and the ramps.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

And if you watch closely there is young man in the park and ride lot that she runs over to and hands him the money. I think after three days they have enough for "out of gas" money.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

If they can stand? The Burger King is hiring. I saw a very clean beggar this afternoon. Must be new. But looked like she could work.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Give them food but no money. That has always been the case. Donate your money to services that help them. i agree with this article. This should be something that ALL incoming students should read. By assisting the services you are assisting the homeless by giving money directly to homeless you are not solving any problem.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

WHY NOT make pandhandling illegal? It gives them somewhere to go besides the shelters they apparently don't want to go to, and keeps them off the street for a minute. I also wish someone would do something about the guy who stands at the exit at AA Saline Rd off I-94 coming from the east - and the people who stand up at Arborland as you're driving out the exit on Pittsfield. It should not be allowed, period!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

My opinion is that it should be illegal --- what I am saying is this approach of making it illegal has been tried, challenged and eventually failed.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Totally agree. Make it illegal. Asking strangers for money is NOT free speech. It's aggressive and invasive.

Robert Hughes

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

The shelter is shut during day time hours. Try visiting it sometime.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Panhandling is classified a form of free speech as long as it is not aggressive or threatening, so making it illegal would be challenged.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

If you want to help someone who's homeless and hungry and support a local business, walk with them over to the Fleetwood or the Cloverleaf and buy that person a meal. That will benefit the individual and the enterprise. (Don't try this at a lot of Main Street restaurants - they don't want "that kind of people" around at all.) Or carry some dried or fresh fruit or soft granola bars to give to people - often my approach. Direct aid and connection - as well as human kindness - still works in this city, doesn't it? .


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

So now when we go downtown we have to carry a bag of food with us. And extra cash and time to make it to the Fleetwood or Cloverleaf to buy em lunch.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

done it. and you know what? 3 of 4 times they rejected the food and only wanted $$ for booze and drugs. i say starve and rot.

Jojo B

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

I think it's very hard to summarize all panhandlers as if they were one person who reacts in a definite way. Many panhandlers downtown might not want food, but I saw a guy outside of the McDonalds on South State with a "will work for food" sign. I drove up to him and gave him a cheeseburger. He was not drunk and he was genuinely grateful. YMMV.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Ive offered food to panhandlers and they've accepted it. Despite the response, my intent is the same-- to help in a way that doesnt hurt.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

I agree with oyxclean. I've tried giving food in various forms to the panhandlers, and they turned it down everytime. So, I stopped trying.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

The homeless are not panhandling because they are hungry. There are many places in A2 to get fed. They don't want your granola--they want booze and cigarettes.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Tony Dearing's editorial of last Feb. 12th says essentially the same thing. I guess it takes time for an idea to take root.

Former A2 Resident

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

The City needed a task force to figure this out?

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

Former A2 resident, oh yeah the city needed a task force to figure this out. the mayor and city council pretty much have their heads "in a hole"......


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Why are these guys here to begin with? Answer: The homeless shelter, which was put in at great expense with taxpayer (our) money, and is now a breeding ground for drug addicts.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

Larry....are you kidding? I've seen the Delonis Center put people out for dropping dirty, or failing a breathalyzer! like the other guy said...can you back this up?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

"a breeding ground for drug addicts"? Really? Can you back that up?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

If there's room.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

I'm with you


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

How about the guy who sits outside the old michigan book and supply and throws trash everywhere. I've talked to this guy a few times about picking up his trash, I am considering calling the police on this guy


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Look, the whole campaign is for the benefit of downtown merchants, not the homeless -- the homeless are saying they'd like some money. If I were homeless and mentally ill, I'd probably be self-medicating too, and I'd probably hope someone would give me some money to help me do that. There is no political will in this country to get mental health treatment for all the people on the street and as long as that is the case, what is the point, frankly?


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

you can not even get rx's on some medical plans. medicare does not include some of them as co pays. it has to come out of your pocket. these are working people. do you think they will go to the store and pay out to their pocket?.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

not every person on the street needs mental health counseling or even wants it. i understand what you're saying but keep in mind that for many it is a lifestyle choice.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I agree the services are threadbare and fairly inaccessible. A close family member is an indigent addict with undiagnosed bu apparent mental illness. Appropriate services have not been available to him. He failed to stay sober in the context if inappropriate services with no mental health assessment and care. But do I hope you give him five bucks if he's panhandling on the street corner? No. I hope you duck into the nearest party store, buy him a water and a sandwich. And pray for him.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Well said. While the panhandlers the task force supposedly spoke with seemed to suffer from substance addiction there was no discussion or even exploration of the root cause. It'd also be pretty unreasonable to think every, or even most panhandlers have a substance addiction problem. There are likely people that are currently in financially tenuous situations commenting. I wonder how their opinions would change if they were faced with being homeless. This is more about a continuing lack of access to healthcare and keeping Ann Arbor pretty than redirecting resources to organizations that can actually help the homeless. While many of the organizations listed do help out in the community their resources are very limited in terms of real estate, community connections, and even requirements for eligibility. This campaign is unfortunate.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

42 page many years to figure this out... Better late than never. It will help.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

The only people I give to on the street now are vendors of "Groundcover," the monthly newpaper. I think it is a fantastic idea that provides support to homeless who are willing to work.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

when I lived back in Chicago, we had a similar thing with Streetwise. Most of the vendors were legit but then once I saw a vendor leave via his relatively new MERCEDES BENZ and that was pretty much the end of it. Just checked whats going on there and they have a program at where it appears you can buy vouchers to pass along to the homeless ... better than giving money and you don't always have food to give.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

I totally agree EBL, I have no problem supporting the Groundcover News.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Better hope Jesus doesn't come to Ann Arbor when he returns. He'd be giving to the homeless constantly and not complying with this campaign.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

Thank you Brad. I needed that response.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

I thought it was Robin Hood who took from the rich and gave it to the poor.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

i doubt that. i recall something about golden rule etc? accountability? yeah. doubt that. he didnt seem like a sucker when i read it.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

Where would Jesus get all this cash to hand out? Oh yeah, from the church's own panhandling system, the collection plate.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

I especially appreciated the trick where he turned a loaf of bread into a fifth of bourbon.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

I agree with Dave below ... I give money rarely but a few times have given a sandwich/food just recently bought. I will probably survive missing a lunch of 2. As for HeyZeus, Ann Arbor has programs that can help him with his psychoses as well.

John Campbell

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." I agree that we should give to the poor constantly, but we should do it through the agencies so that perhaps those that are struggling can be helped. Supporting the many homeless with their addictions is not helping them, it just makes us feel better.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Not a religious guy here, but I think we could show jesus that there are services provided for the needy through all of our tax dollars. We are helping the homeless/panhandlers, but just not by ponying up 35 cents as we pass by them.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

I'm hoping that Ann Arbor doesn't get visits from *any* 2000 year old zombies.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

The problem is not economic poverty, the root cause is spiritual poverty. You could put every one of these people on a full stipend (many are) and before the end of the month, like the prodigal son, they would have wasted it on themselves and other drunkards and returned sitting on the street begging.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Probably it is based on Jesus' exhortation to take what you have and give it to the poor. I don't think Jesus really took into account whether the poor were ruining the look of the downtown.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Northside And what do you base that statement on? Certainly not Matthew 11:5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

tom swift jr.

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

Don't get me wrong, folks, I agree that addictions do not have a positive impact on anyone's life. But, do we really have the right to be everyone's nanny? The easy solution to this would be to just make Washtenaw a dry county... Oh, wait, you say you don't want that? Think about it a bit....

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

Tom, I agree that we don't have the right to be"everyone's nanny". what they do with the $$ they panhandle is their own business. But we don't have to be enablers either.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

sorry...should have really read your comment :-)


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

yeah, they did a 13 year "experiment" back in 1920...didn't work...what makes you think it would work today?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

Not sure how we're being anyone's nanny. We're just not giving the panhandlers money directly to force them to use the city services provided to all of them.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

It's so easy. Just say "no thank you" and keep on walking.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

What JRW and LAEL are describing is aggressive panhandling, is illegal and should be reported to the police.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

@LAEL I'm sure everyone either has, or will have an experience similar to ours.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

I love the one reply I got when I said get a job at McD or something to that effect, but then what will I do with my children? Uh huh. Schools give free lunches and after school care.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

We can blame our mayor, city council and other city leaders for not cleaning up this mess years ago.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

@KINGofSKA Just because you haven't, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I have been chased, and I've had obscenities yelled at me. It's only happened to me twice over many years, but it did happen.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

@JRW They only obscenities I've heard them say is either a "Thank you" or a "God bless".


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

It's not that easy when they chase you and start yelling at you (obscenities). They don't take no for an answer.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

This study is virtually identical to the findings all over the country. The message is clear-- stop funding panhandling. Period. What's to argue here??

Laura Jones

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Because people should have the decency to starve and OD out of sight and not trouble hardworking deserving taxpayers. We could make panhandling illegal, unemployment illegal, homelessness and mental illness illegal too. Make them all capital crimes and problem solved, right? Stop funding panhandling, see an increase in crime, unless and until we have more social services for the homeless, namely housing and medical treatment.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

You cannot just make panhandling illegal. The First Amendment protects the right of people to ask for money. You can, however, impose reasonable limitations to ensure safety and that should be done.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

The only way to do that is to make panhandling illegal.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

""We brought panhandlers to the task force and asked what they were doing…we pretty overwhelmingly heard, 'We're doing it to get high, we're doing it to get drunk, we're doing it to get a bottle," she said." That must have been a completely surreal, Saturday Night Live/The Onion moment.