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Posted on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Handling downtown Ann Arbor's panhandlers: Just say 'no'

By Rich Kinsey

Last Sunday’s article about downtown panhandlers becoming a problem for local businesses is not surprising because the downtown beat walking/bicycle riding police officers are gone.

There is no one to keep the beggars and con artists moving along these days so it is going to be up to citizens to deal with them on some level.

First and foremost do not give them a penny! Give to your favorite charity, but do not give to street beggars.

Bless the citizens of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. We are a very giving lot and have done much for those in need. Ann Arbor has a fine shelter for the homeless in the Delonis Center. Free meals are prepared and distributed daily by local churches and community service organizations to those who need them. If someone is homeless and hungry, this county will take care of them if they can abide by the rules of the shelter (e.g. you cannot be drunk, drugged or disruptive). Therefore you have no reason to feel guilty in telling a panhandler, “NO.”

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The best thing you can do when approached by a panhandler is to square your shoulders, appear confident and aware, look them in the eye and nod. Do not give them money.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about the panhandlers at the top of exit ramps that advertised: “Will work for food.” That article had its genesis by my being approached by a con woman in Kalamazoo who cried she needed money, on a Saturday (when courts are not usually open) to get a cab to get to court to, “Get my (her) babies back.” When I cut her off with, “No,” the tears immediately dried up, a lower more powerful voice replied, “Shoot, you didn’t even let me get the story out.” She squared her shoulders and walked away.

After I wrote that column, there were some tremendous responses in the online comments. Most of them agreed that the panhandlers downtown and those with signs at the exits to freeways are con artists who make surprisingly good incomes.

Some in Ann Arbor have made several hundred dollars a day from the soft (and perhaps naive) hearts who give to help their fellow human. Unfortunately most of those gifts get spent at the liquor store or dope house as soon as enough capital is accumulated.

One of the points made in the previous column was that the guy or gal who “will work for food” -- won’t. If you offer them a hamburger they look at you like you have lost your mind and colorfully tell you to go away.

One online commenter told the story of some well-meaning Washtenaw Community College (WCC) students who wanted to help the fellows begging for food at US-23 and Geddes. The WCC students decided to gather some goodies in a picnic basket and offer a lunch feast to the poor souls with the signs. Both freeway beggars told these students rather coarsely to get lost.

In speaking to several cops and criminals, I have found that there is a heroin dealer who orders his users out on the off ramps with the “will work for food” signs to generate cash. If a junkie is “dope sick,” begging beats robbing or prostituting, but citizens should still not give these guys a dime.

We in Michigan are living in tough economic times. Perhaps there has never been a better time to give to those less fortunate if you can. By all means give generously to your favorite charity. However, do not give to panhandlers, it perpetuates the problem!

The best thing you can do when approached by a panhandler is to square your shoulders, appear confident and aware, look them in the eye and nod. If they ask for money, look serious but not angry, tell them “No” and walk past them. Do not feel guilty!

Report aggressive panhandlers to the police immediately. If a panhandler gets aggressive, yell, “Would someone call the police!”

Even if the panhandler has a heart-wrenching story do not feel guilty -- the stories are hogwash. “I need money for gas.” “My (insert family member here) is very sick and needs medicine.” One girl in a grocery store parking lot asked me,“I have a winning lottery ticket, but they won’t cash it for me and I need gas to get back home could you spare a few dollars?” I offered to call the police to help her and she left.

If you are absolutely overcome by guilt (spelled G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E) or know the panhandler personally and like them (I must admit I have fallen prey here) and must give, make sure you have the money ready. Do not pull out your wallet or open your purse and, for goodness sake, do not let the panhandler follow you to the ATM.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for He also serves as the Crime Stoppers coordinator for Washtenaw County.



Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

@ all the readers who insist that panhandling is not a problem or that to not give or criticize giving to panhandlers is a sign of a lost soul or .....? please remember that by giving to panhandlers you are not helping anyone. please remember that most are addicts and the only person you are supporting is their dealer. please remember that when you read about a dead junkie. you probably helped them get there.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

If we "just say no" to these panhandlers, they how will they get therir money to pay for booze and dope? Denying them money is cruel and heartless.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

Actually all they have to do is travel to Detroit to their fix. Detroit has a lot of dope houses that need people to sell to. Denying them the money is better for all involved.

Chuck Early

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Some of these people are working on taking purses, and whatever else they can take as well. Liberty park is a hawking place ofr two bit criminals. I wish they would use walking police patrols again, and get rid of them. Send them on their way, but make a ten minute stay the longest anyone can be in front of a store.

Cosmic Ray

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5 p.m.

They should rename that park Vagabond Square Garden


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 6:56 a.m.

To those people who suggested that they would prefer to help any number of con artists to help one truly needy person. Bravo, you are likely a kind, generous person, and I salute you. But read the article. If you donate to a (worthwhile) charity, you are helping MORE truly needy folks without giving so much to parasites. And each time you give a beggar money that will go to drugs or a bottle of cheap alcohol, you are spitting on him (or her), and kicking him in the face.....

kindred spirit

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:46 a.m.

Just as annoying as being aggressively asked for money are the comments by people who laugh at those who are afraid when aggressively asked for money. I suspect the panhandlers have a good read on people and know who is likely to be intimidated and are more aggressive with them than with others, thus the advice from the article writer to teach others to be more intimidation-proof. Now, those who frequently respond on this site and make fun of others fairly aggressively just because readers cannot see their faces. . . .

Andrew Inwood

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

I've never had a problem with them on the streets. Their signs get more elaborate each year like "I'm a broke pothead with the munchies", and simply "You suck". Just keep walking or say you got nothing, they've been polite about it.

Cosmic Ray

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Corn Dog, the "broke pothead with the munchies", is standing in front of his own Mercedes the whole time!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

At least one person has alluded to the vague line between ( mostly really inept and annoying ) street performance and panhandling. Actually Boston may be a model for a win win situation in that street musicians there have to audition ( or did a number of years ago) to play in high traffic areas, and the quality of street music there is often concert hall quality ( and yes i know that alot of buskers are day students at music schools like Berklee, Longy and new england conservatories...but im sure alot arent......) and from boxcar willy to bob wills and merle haggard lots learned their easy to listen to ( and pay for) chops on the streets and fields. Some entrepeneur should start a clinic to teach panhandlers some artful performance skills from music to juggling...i'd shell out for that.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

Some of the pan handlers are nuts. I personally had one follow me down downtown State Street a 1PM screaming at the top of his lungs that he was going to "Kill" me because he felt disrespected when I wouldn't give him money for the american-flag-on-a-toothpick he tried to give me. Also, there's another pan handler (who I haven't seen for a while) that offers you a handshake and then won't let go. Please people, don't give pan handlers money. Many of these people have problems that can't be solved with handouts, in fact, the handouts may enable them and make their issues worse. By giving them money pan handlers multiply, and it's only a matter of time until a violent one comes along. There are plenty of organizations that can and do help people in need, and they rarely give money because once they do it becomes a free-for-all for con artists. Several religious organizations refuse give cash to people that come in looking for money for the same reasons. Giving pan handlers money makes you and everyone around you a target. Want to feel good about helping someone who needs it? Give to the many charities in the area, they can use your help.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Well put. Thank you!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

"Lock it up, don't leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors." . Same could be said regarding our tax-and-spend liberal friends as well.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

I don't know how many (or few) panhandlers are legit. I don't know how much (or how little) money panhandlers they actually pull in. I've never personally felt threatened by one, and I don't view them as a public-safety threat. Though my view might be different were I a business owner on Main or Liberty streets, panhandlers' mere presence IMO is not a big deal to me personally. But here's my problem: I have experienced too many ungrateful bums begging for money to which they somehow feel entitled. Too many of them lie ("I'm out of gas," when they're not; "Will work for food," when in fact they will neither work nor accept food), and too many complain if the only change you have in your pocket isn't "enough." Well, I've had "enough." If you want my help, don't lie to me. If you're really hungry, accept that hamburger if it's offered. And if you're truly legit, you can, as the detective points out, make use of a homeless shelter, charitable group, or social agency. I generally agree with the posters who advance the "But for the grace of God" and "What would Jesus do?" views. Jesus, however, wouldn't lie about his plight. And he would accept work if offered, he would accept food if he was truly hungry, and, if given pocket change, he wouldn't ungratefully demand even more. In short, he wouldn't scam people. I unfortunately have had to adopt my friend's rather cold tactic: When approached by someone with they typical bullcrap story, he merely puts up his hand, says "don't talk to me," and moves on.

Cosmic Ray

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

If you get pitched by a guy sitting along the street to "donate to the soup kitchen for the homeless food drive", be advised that this is just another scam (and this one steals from the real charities).

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

If you are a homeless person on the street begging for handouts it's BAD. But if you are wearing a suit and tie and on the board of SPARK begging for Ann Arbor taxpayer dollars it's GOOD. Got it.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

City Council has its own begging problem. I'd advise the same response at the polls - ignore their requests for your money.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Oh, for crying out loud. Just walk or drive by. This is not an issue worth spending time discussing. The homeless are here to stay. The beggars are here to stay. So are we. I just politely say that I have no cash, and continue walking. (It's true. I never carry cash.) I have never felt frightened or harassed by these individuals.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

So many problems. First of all, needs to work on its ridiculous classification system. There's absolutely no justification for this being filed under "News > Crime." It's also disingenuous for the author to claim that extant shelters and charities are sufficient to deal with the homelessness problem in the area. Unless, of course, he thinks that the respectful, quiet, sober homeless men who often sleep outside of the First United Methodist Church on Huron for some reason prefer the outside during Ann Arbor winters to the warmth of the shelter? There's also no "problem" with people panhandling on the streets downtown. Not only is it laughable for anyone who's spent time in Chicago or New York to hear about the "aggressive" panhandling in Ann Arbor, it's clear that these areas are public places. You have no inherent human right to walk down a street without people speaking to you. If you want to live in isolation, stay in your house. If businesses want to control the area outside their stores, they should purchase that land from the city. The author of the original article also makes plenty of broad generalizations, but provides no facts to back them up. I trust he actually has some proof for some of these claims? "Some in Ann Arbor have made several hundred dollars a day from the soft (and perhaps naive) hearts who give to help their fellow human. Unfortunately most of those gifts get spent at the liquor store or dope house as soon as enough capital is accumulated."

rusty shackelford

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

Cops love to think that they've "seen it all" and as such their opinions have some sort of inherent empirical validity. Oddly (or not), the more podunky or homogeneous the place they work, the stronger this propensity seems to be.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

this is so so so so right. it is a con. you have to say no. it is not hard you do it to your kids so why them. what gets me is they make good money doing this. they do not pay taxs. why does the irs no go after them. why not our police not go after them. they are not reporting it as income. it is a crime. you take the girls and guys whom work in restaurants. they have to report the tips. they make less than $3.00 an hour ( i think). so stop giving them money or get the social security number so you can claim in as donations . once again it is a con.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

I'm just confused why Mort hasn't decided to pursue this extremely lucrative career himself.

Lemmy Caution

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

What's the evidence that Ann Arbor's panhandlers make "good money doing this"? Seriously, have sociologists studied this, or perhaps the "freakonomics" types? I remember reading there that low-level drug dealers make less money than a low-level employee at a fast-food factory like McDonald....

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

I didn't used to give money to panhandlers because I felt that our safety net was adequate. I don't think it is anymore. It is just a tool to try to control people. I like the idea of giving money directly to the people who need it with no strings attached. In fact, the tone of this article and comments have actually made me change my mind about panhandling. I am going to be giving money to them now even though I didn't before.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

As of Saturday, the safety net starts dissolving for some who have been on state aide for far too long. There are places to get jobs. Not sit around waiting for handouts.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

I give a few bucks from time to time. I don't feel bad about it and could careless if anyone is inconvenienced by it.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Risking getting cussed out or beat up, I stopped to point out to a young person opening his wallet on Main Street that the dollar he was giving to this beggar was going to be spent there (pointing to Liquor Store), consumed in the alley behind the nice restaurant he and his date were at and then urinated upon my or another downtown business person's doorstep. The self righteous little persons date, replied "what would Jesus do". I suggested that if she were going to go there, why did she not take the guy home, give him a meal and a warm bed. She and her date looked as though no-one had ever talked to them that way before.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Do you?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

I would hope that they indeed had never been talked to that way before. I daresay they probably found your behavior more frightening than that of any panhandler. But perhaps you knew that when you wrote this comment.

Atticus F.

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

God bless that couple...

Life in Ypsi

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

I follow my gut when it comes to giving to people asking for money and sometimes do it out of fear. I was once approached in a dark parking lot while alone and a man asked if I had any money because he ran out of gas. I didn't have any cash so I offered him the bottles in my car that were probably $2-3 worth. He declined despite being right outside the store. So yes, it arose my suspicions. This was a case of offering out of fear I must admit. I wish both the city and township of Ypsi would do something about panhandling. They wait outside the gas station, stores and restaurants and can get pretty aggressive. One woman that I frequently see used to live in the same apartment complex as I did in the early 90s and would stand out front daily asking for $1 to catch the bus. She now stands in the parking lot at DHS doing the same thing. Another woman I see frequently all around town says she ran out of gas. Another guy approached me while I was picking my child up from work and got angry because I said no. I gave all my change to one man that approached me exiting my car while I was going to work and got angry because I did not have more to give. Chances are if children aren't with someone panhandling or it's a person I see all the time I'm not giving. I know from working with this population that the money goes to buy drugs and alcohol. They use to come back to my place of employment and brag about all the people that got suckered out of their money. I'm struggling to support my family. I don't smoke, use drugs or alcohol and why should I have to support someone's else's habits that I myself can't even afford to do even if I wanted to?

Cosmic Ray

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:15 p.m.

Yes, in another popular scam you'll often see rough-looking adults sheparding multiple preschool-age children and forcing them to sell candy bars to "support their team". They're bold enough to go table to table inside the coffee shops as well as work the streets.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

most realistic take on this topic yet


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

I've lived off the gratitude of other people for a few months in my life and, according to this article, I must have been addicted to drugs, and would only accept cash not food. I was not addicted to drugs. As a vegetarian, I ate several meals with meat in them because people were kind enough to buy/give me food. I was homeless because it takes money to get back on your feet. If you don't have an address, you can't get a job. If you don't have identification cards, you can't get into many shelters. If it weren't for the kind people allowing me to sleep on their couches, porches, property.... if it weren't for the amazing folks who gave me money and food.... I may have been raped, picked up by a pimp, or even dead. Because of the gratitude of others, I survived and am now a productive citizen. I was only homeless for 6 months. Others spend a lot longer trying to make it back. You have the right to say no. I would always apologize and wish the non-givers a great day. Most people did not give me anything. Those that did got my greatest thanks. I know not all panhandlers are as cool as I was but it always sucked to be treated as less than human. Give if you want to give, say no if you want to say no. The laws in A2 are pretty intuitive - if someone is pushy or aggressive, if they are near an ATM, if they are in an alleyway.... know your laws and if people are behaving within them, please give them the respect you would give any other human being.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

Lisa, It's great to hear an actual informed perspective on this. Thank you.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

"Some in Ann Arbor have made several hundred dollars a day from the soft (and perhaps naive) hearts who give to help their fellow human. Unfortunately most of those gifts get spent at the liquor store or dope house as soon as enough capital is accumulated." How was this determined? It sounds like a commonly held belief, a stereotype; but is the author's claim substantiated by a scientific investigation? "Some" have made "hundreds of dollars a day." Which ones? I'd like to ht them up for a hand out myself. Economically speaking, this money wouldn't be "capital", but more like a wage (although the "beggars" aren't actually producing a commodity).

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

Actually they are. Whatever it is that motivates people to give (most likely, the good feeling) is a definitionally valuable commodity enabled by the work of the beggar.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

Wonder what Jesus/Ghandi/Mother Theresa would do if a beggar approached one of them....I give.And I will give 'til the day I die.That's what feels right to me.Don't care what they spend it on...have gotten to know Arthur,the gentleman who walks with a crutch and asks for 50 cents.He worked for years as an engineer at a now defunct company that mismanaged it's finances,along with his lucrative pension.He owns a home on Huron.He does not have a substance abuse problem.He served in Vietnam,and still has the bullet lodged in his hip,which bothers him from time to time,hence the crutch.He's 2 years shy of social security,then,he says,he'll be okay.There,but for the grace of God,go I.

Sarah Parviz

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

If people want to see REAL need, go to Detroit and see the panhandlers there, those people have nothing, and there is real need. Detroit homeless would trade places with A2 homeless in a second. Which is why I do NOT give to beggars in Ann Arbor, I save my money for those who truly need it.

Cosmic Ray

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

I'm afraid that many of the people in question have moved to a2 because the pickings are good (and the word is spreading).


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

A good article with good advice Rich. Not only should residence hear this but all freshman students and their parents when goiong through U of M registration and school tours, should be told this. Many of the students have never seen a panhandler before, and this information is important for them and their parents to hear. When we registered with our daughter, no information about panhandlers or keeping safe in the city was distributed. Whereas your article gives practical advice, it is my opinion that I do not want to be accosted in the first place. I do not wish to worry if the creepy guy I pass is going to follow me down the street or into the parking garage. I do not want my young children to be subjected to some doper yelling at me for money for drugs. Therefore I have taken the path of least resistance. I do not go downtown unless I absolutely have to, and then only when carrying a handgun. As a woman I feel threatened by men yelling in my face, following me or harrassing me for money. I am hesitant that if I say no, I may anger what may already be an unstable individual. I am afraid. I pay a high taxes to live in Ann Arbor, and I want a visible police presence. Anything less than that is unacceptable. Our town leaders are focusing on artwork rather than the safety of their residence. They are taking the stance of "Nero danced while Rome burned" and that helps no one.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

One rapist, on the loose for months.... police have no viable leads... does that make YOU feel safe? I am sorry if my desire to protect myself and my family offends you. Rusty, I never said I was going to "blast someone into oblivion for asking for money". You do have a flair for artistic license. I refuse to live my life intimidated by bums, vagabonds, panhandlers and the like, and if carrying a gun makes me feel safe, the Constitution of the United States gives me the right to do so. Ann Arbor is not the sleepy little burg you want to believe it is. Drug dealing is prolific in this town, as well as students, yes, students, having an increase in applications for CCW's and carrying hand guns, AK-47's in their car, as well as having them in their apartments. I do have a pulse on what is actually going on in this town. I prefer to live in a place where common sense reigns, but alas, Ann Arbor seems to be stuck in a time warp. Ann Arbor is not a CITY, Chicago and NYC are cities. This is a college town trying to pose as a city, without having the mindset or the politicians with enough experience to know how to run a CITY.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 1:20 a.m.

It must be a pretty unenjoyable life to spend all afternoon posting eight dozen comments on a single story.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

I've gotta agree with rusty shackelford here. It must be a pretty unenjoyable life if *Ann Arbor* scares you so much.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

This comment is so over the top it's hard to believe it's legitimate. If it is, I feel very sad for the person whose life is so dominated by fear she can't walk down the streets of Ann Arbor--a very safe town by any reasonable measure--without being prepared to blast someone into oblivion for having the audacity to ask for money.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Thanks for the information. You have affirmed my experience that most, if not all, are con artists. You are correct there are a lot of resources to help those in real need.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

It's interesting that factless supposition can "affirm" your experience.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

Mr. Kinsey, I like especially your advice to look into the eyes of the beggar, but not to intimidate (and I'm not sure that this is how you meant it). Rather, I find that looking into the eyes of a stranger acknowledges his or her humanity and reminds both of us of what we share as human beings. As the mother of an addict (no longer living), I know that the disease of addiction has nothing to do with being willing to work or the desire (and effort) to be a good person. I don't give to panhandlers, but I like to allow a fellow traveler his dignity and wish him well, and I feel that doing so pays dividends for both of us.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

I've never been scared of a panhandler before. Quite frankly there are times when I have money on me that I don't give to them because I'm a pretty greedy person. And by money I mean change, because I've never given a panhandler paper money before. Change can be pretty useful for vending machines and the like. But in certain situations, I will give these people money. It's more of a mood thing than a feeling of civic duty though. Sometimes you're having such a good day that you're swayed into giving them some money. Especially when it comes to having a pocket full of loose change, the stuff that usually ends up on the floor at my house or under a car seat. At most, a panhandler has cracked jokes while trying to get money from me. I've never been aggressively perused for it. Take for example, the guy who asks for $50 all the time downtown. Not sure if he's still on the panhandling circuit, but that guy was funny and a great character. I guess I'm not experiencing the flip side of this, where helpless people seem to be getting berated by panhandlers who are aggressively perusing them. I can understand why some people would be irked by this though. If I was eating outside downtown, and a panhandler came up to me asking for change, I might be slightly bothered. Or outside of an ATM, or in my car, or waiting for the bus.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Great story Rich!!! I will always say NO or Ignore the panhandlers. I know to well what happens with the money given to druggies. Example....I know a man that, when his son called for money for gas and food (and he was going to take him cash). I said NO, meet him at the gas station, fill his tank and I gathered food here at home to give to him. (no more calls for cash) Another call was asking his dad for money to pay his cell phone bill. (didn't happen) "Tough Love" Your choice, go without a phone or drugs! Can't count the number of times he has been in re-hab. Money wasted, he is a walk out! I do and will share my fresh garden vegetables with food banks and the homeless shelters.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

While I find the panhandlers on Liberty a mild annoyance, it's not the main reason I'm avoiding shopping downtown these days. The closing of Borders, the increase in parking rates and the disappearance of the library surface parking lot all combine to deter me from heading downtown. Actually, what I find worse than the panhandlers downtown are the extremely aggressive sales clerks staffing the kiosks at Briarwood, especially during the holiday season. I feel like I'm running a gauntlet when I shop there and I hate it. Probably will have to resort to shopping online this season.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

So true! Sometimes I pull out my cell phone and pretend to talk to people on it just to avoid their questions.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7 p.m.

I was tempted to make that same point. The people at Briarwood make beggars on the street look like they don't even exist.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Being a small woman I'm not sure what people are so afraid of? I walk by them all the time and just ignore them. I don't make eye contact and act if I can't hear them. They get the hint and don't bug me. I have a relative that lives the the life of a bum and our family has tried numerous times to help him get a job or go back to school only to be turned down each time. My relative told me outright that he didn't want to be "bogged" down with a job and school was just "uncool". Fine, each person can live however they'd like but just don't ask me to support that way of life since I work for my bread and butter.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

Glad that youve been spared harassment , but not all in your demographic are.

Lemmy Caution

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Having worked on central campus in downtown A2 for 15 years, my anecdotal sense is that the panhandler/beggar presence hasn't gone up much or become more aggressive. But I am a somewhat larger-sized male human (6 ft, 240 lbs). I hope we still enough police to deal with those who threaten others and businesses. Perhaps a city income tax is in order, after all, since real estate taxes will be down for a decade (along with house values). I often acknowledge the beggar (they are people after all) and say "no thanks." In other words, I already gave--especially to Food Gatherers, a most excellent local food bank, and the excellent local woman's shelter. Some folks will get their lives together--some really want to. And many are still in a miasma of addiction and/or mental health problems / very low economic capital / very low social capital (networks)/ psychological anomie. In my religion (Christianity), one measurement of our piety is our willingness to care for and identify the "least among us." The panhandling does go up every summer, though, with a lot more young folks hanging around, playing acoustic guitars badly, with cheeky cardboard signs, and displaying their maltreated animals (not cool). As what may be American's lost decade (thanks to bank failure, real estate crisis, recession, insufficient govt stimulus to re-start dead economy) deepens, there will be of course more very poor people and homeless people. Desperate times for many.

Atticus F.

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

It's not in my nature to 'punish someone' because they are an addict by denying them spare change. I give freely to the homeless, without judgement, when ever I can afford to do so. And if a small bottle of booze, or a pack of smokes is the onlything that brings happyness to a miserable existance, then so be it. I dont pass out any judgement when passing out change, because I believe that to automatically assume that someone is going to spend the money on tobacco or booze, is a stereotype, and it's not fair to the people who really do need food, or clean socks, or any other basic neccesity.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

So paternalistic.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Enabling is not helping anyone.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

Plus, they would turn that stuff down anyway, and ask for cash.

Atticus F.

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Because there are many other necessities that people living on the streets might need, and A) I can't percieve what a particular individual might need, and B) if I did know the needs of each individual homeless person, it would probably be impractical to carry those things around. Thats why.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:20 p.m.

Why don't you just carry food and clean socks around, and pass them out?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " Matthew 25:37-40


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:06 a.m.

Didn't your post just violate my rights to free speech and religion? Just a thought. They all need to get a job. Not pan handle for $300 a day.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

The person Dorothy quoted made a point of helping and befriending the people everyone else looked down on.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

I see it says nothing about giving money to those holding up a sign that reads "Needs money for drugs". Thank you Dorothy for the clarity.

Atticus F.

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Thank you Dorothy.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

Too bad most Ann Arbor residents are atheists.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

The bums here are downright polite compared to those in real cities. In San Francisco they will snatch the food right out of your hand.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4 p.m.

I take it you have never been to SF? Bums in SF are by far the coolest ones to drink 40's with.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

Large cities like San Francisco? I think the word real is more about size versus what constitutes an actual city.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

What is a real city?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

You make some excellent points for the most part. I think we all feel a desire to help in some way (out of guilt or compassion), but in fact as you state we are just contributing to their addictions and anti-social behavior. In our effort to do good, we do bad. Our heart is in the right place, but we duped, conned. As I personally do not want to encourage panhandling behavior that threatens local business or keeps customers away (I think AA has some progressive laws on the books now that restrict panhandling and may require a permit to panhandle, and I understand other Michigan cities are using Ann Arbor's example for their own panhandling laws). For me, while knowing the scam potential, never-the-less, I try to treat each person as a human being with compassion, on a case-by-case basis, even just to look them in the eye, acknowledging a fellow human being, and bid them a "Good day" . "You are that man.".

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

"Within 12 feet of the entrance to or exit from the Nickels Arcade, located between State Street and Maynard Street; the Galleria, located between S. University and the Forest Street parking structure; and the Pratt Building, located between Main Street and the Ashley parking lot;" Joy. Government pandering to certain special interests. Nothing could go wrong with that.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

"You used a lot of adjectives that basically add up to, "if someone is doing something I don't like, they're violating my 'public rights'." " --Correct, and most of the time they would be breaking the law, but not always. There is a fair amount of incivility these days, both on the road and in other public places, actions that are inconsiderate and rude, although not against the law. "There's a place for laws if you're actually being threatened. Not before." --What comes first, the chicken or the egg?.Below I've included part of the AA ordinance. I personally have never felt threatened by panhandlers in A2, but many people have frightened by panhandlers, and it seems for a good reason. Here's part of the 2003 ordinance: it protects AA citizens and but also gives freedom to panhandlers to operate in AA2 with certain restrictions: it shall be unlawful for any person to solicit the immediate payment of money or goods from another person, whether or not in exchange for goods, services, or other consideration, under any of the following circumstances: 7. By moving to within 2 feet of the person solicited, unless that person has indicated that he/she wishes to be solicited; 8. By following and continuing to solicit a person who walks away from the solicitor; 9. By knowingly making a false or misleading representation in the course of a solicitation; 10. In a manner that appears likely to cause a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities to feel intimidated, threatened or harassed; 11. Within 12 feet of the entrance to or exit from the Nickels Arcade, located between State Street and Maynard Street; the Galleria, located between S. University and the Forest Street parking structure; and the Pratt Building, located between Main Street and the Ashley parking lot; or 12. From a person who is a patron at any outdoor cafe or restaurant.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

You used a lot of adjectives that basically add up to, "if someone is doing something I don't like, they're violating my 'public rights'." There's a place for laws if you're actually being threatened. Not before.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

If you are drunk, unruly, threatening, intimidating, aggressively panhandling then you are a public nuisance, you are violating others public rights, and laws are needed to enforce public safety. At the same time, good laws allow a peaceful coexistence, while securing the rights of all involved. Small/mid-size cities often don't know how to solve this problem without serious discrimination against panhandlers. I think Ann Arbor panhandling laws have struck a good balance.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

The idea that a law against being on a public sidewalk is "progressive" is indicative of the sad extent to which Ann Arbor has fallen.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

Stop handing out all the free stuff to the homeless. They got themselves in their mess, let them take care of thereselves.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Bums? I thought they were walking Art.

Cosmic Ray

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

That would be me ;)

rusty shackelford

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

"If a junkie is "dope sick," begging beats robbing or prostituting, but citizens should still not give these guys a dime." So... wouldn't that encourage them to go robbing and prostituting? When someone is visibly 'dope sick,' is actually the only time I give them money. Most people will never know the intense suffering that is heroin withdrawal. It is nauseatingly painful and can put one quite literally out of one's head. Not everyone is able to access treatment or is ready to be treated right now. Furthermore, many people become addicted because they self-medicate with heroin when they can't get medical treatment for severe pain from other conditions. So when they withdraw, they are suffering doubly. I just don't care if it's their 'own fault' or not. I do hope everyone can kick the habit but it is INCREDIBLY hard; in the mean time, compassion dictates I help them alleviate their intense suffering. And I'd rather give them a buck than have them get too desperate and mug my grandma.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

Andrew? I will take all of your comments with a thank you and glad I don't know you either statement to boot.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

jns13: I'm glad you have such a high opinion of your fellow human beings.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

"Compassion" only for people we think deserve it is not compassion at all. When I see someone in acute pain I take a small step to end it. I think that makes me...what? A human being? What next? Should the ER refuse to treat overdoses because the person did it themselves? What about suicide attempts?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

rusty shackelford: Your opinion is frightening. Where did you get your statistics that many drug addicts become addicted due to self medication with heroin because they cannot get medical treatment? Seems your attitude of giving money to drug addicts makes you more of a drug pusher than a compassionate citizen.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Very scary to read this. I just carry bear spray. Makes them go away. As for dope sickness? There is a place to rehab for this. Your article scares me.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

So the only money you hand out is that which you know will go for drugs. Nice.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

I think Mr. Kinsey paints the homeless with too broad a brush. While many are drug addicts and con artists, a lot are people who are out of work and can't get benefits, old and unemployed, or just mentally ill. If the homeless shelter is so fine, why do so many prefer to sleep in the woods? Could it be that they prefer their freedom over the semi-imprisonment of the shelter? We cherish our own autonomy, so why are we so judgmental of those who do not wish to surrender theirs, even for a dry cot and a bowl of soup? One of the downsides of being a cop is that you get a lot of exposure to the worst in society. Most of the cops I've known have had a pretty dim view of human nature and tend to see dirtbags everywhere they look. That's a useful trait for catching criminals, but it's not very helpful in crafting social policy.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Jack - I doubt that very much. At any rate, many of them ARE homeless, which was my point. And virtually all - except the cons - are destitute. Most of them may be drug addicts and drunks, but is this from a lack of character or untreated mental issues? Don't forget, many of these folks once would have been receiving treatment in mental institutions before Engler kicked them to the curb.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Most of the people you see panhandling on the streets and highways are not homeless. Save your sympathy for those who are truly homeless.

Go Blue

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

A little difficult to ignore a panhandler when they are blocking your way or following you haranguing while walking downtown. We need to do more than just ignore them or say no. We need to stop blowing big bucks on non-essential expenditures (like the "art" just installed) and use funds for more, not fewer, police and fire. Maybe city council could do something about key elements in the city, say maybe deal with the panhandling, or the bridge that will be an accident one of these days, or just maybe the serial rapist????? Is that asking too much for our tax dollars? Is it asking too much that they zero in on relevant issues and stop dinking around?

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

I've never once in Ann Arbor seen a panhandler "block someone's way" (as opposed to perhaps stepping out in front of them to get their attention.) I've never seen one "follow" someone (as opposed to perhaps walking down the street in the same direction.) And I've seen nothing credible in this comment thread or elsewhere to suggest that these are actual problems.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

.A society is measured to some extent by how it treats it s weakest PROVIDED the latter are not simultaneously and aggressively ( or cynically or drunkenly) trying to take advantage of the kindness of others. . By that measure in any given situation i count as "weaker" a lone smallish person accosted by a larger aggressive panhandler....especially if the former has an unduly developed and misplaced sense of guilt. I'm not hassled at all...but im large , fit and often don't radiate superficial cheer ...but i want my wife , daughters, shopkeepers trying to make an honest living etc to not be hassled either .

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

My guess is that everyone being "accosted" (spoken to) is well off, yes. It would be kind of silly for the homeless or poor to berate each other for money. As for who "deserves" to be "accosted" (spoken to)? Why, everyone. If you can't deal with someone asking you for money, don't go outside. Report it to the police when someone *actually* breaks a law; the rest of the time, grow a spine.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

so andrew...are you assuming all folks, small or not, who may feel intimidated/ hassled are well off?? And even if they are plutocrats that they deserve to be so accosted?? Nice!!

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

Yes, how dare these "aggressive" (speaking) panhandlers "accost" (talk to) smallish people. And how dare the city not protect these "weaker" (well off) people from their own sense of guilt?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Thank you!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

Don't feed the pigeons. They will go away.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

I'm glad I don't know you, and I see why you post anonymously.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

This reminds me of a Dr Dimento song. Feeding pigeons in the park. Interesting. Wonder if they would go away?

Steve Pepple

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

An inappropriate and off topic comment posted earlier has been removed.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

Of course, one can just say no. However, what about the businesses downtown that have to deal with the panhandlers who are standing in their doorway, as indicated by the picture above. If council can come up with some stupid law re: stopping for pedestrians, they can come up with some type of law eliminated panhandling on the streets.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Oh no! There's someone standing *next to* a doorway, on a public street. The horror! Call in the legislators!

Nathaniel Borenstein

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Our society has lost much of its civility, compassion, and kindness in my lifetime, but we are still a free enough society that we can each make our own decisions about what to do with our own money. There are many of us who would rather be "scammed" ten times than fail once to help someone who really needs it. If you lack compassion, you are free to walk on by. But until compassion itself is made illegal -- which wouldn't surprise me -- many of us will ignore your advice to harden our hearts, and will continue to try to help those who appear to need it.

John Hritz

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Thanks, Nathaniel. Many cultures have the notion of giving alms. This can be donations to shelters or individuals. A homeless woman used to great me and my then girlfriend regularly as &quot;Sir&quot; and his wife. This was very early in our relationship and she provided an insight and a bit of a prediction. It still think about Suzanne and wonder how she is. I am also reminded of Rambam's Ladder. An interesting book on the range of giving options: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Mike Martin

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

Of course you are free to do whatever you want with your money. But, equating &quot;walking on by&quot; with lacking compassion is wrong and disrespectful to people who have different ideas about using money for charitable purposes. Donating to the homeless shelter as opposed to handing out money on the street being one obvious alternative, and a perfectly compassionate response, coupled with a &quot;no&quot; to the street beggar.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

I like Mr. Kinsey's advice, It should not just be used for Panhandlers: &quot;If you are absolutely overcome by guilt (spelled G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E)&quot; You you hear about Teachers, Firemen, Policemen etc being laid off, starving children, taking care of seniors don't be Gullible. You are being Lied to! Remember this when you VOTE in November! and November 2012!

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

kindred, how many poor people have ever hired you?

kindred spirit

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 5:26 a.m.

Or better yet, if you hear people saying, &quot;business people are job creators who simply cannot be taxed,&quot; say NO!

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

xmo, you make a great point - we need to get rid of Obama in November!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

Mr. Kinsey, how are you qualified to tell others that they should not give to the homeless, panhandlers, bums or whatever you want to call them? If people want to give, they should be able to do so without being denigrated. I choose not to give, but that is my choice based upon my life experiences (including 20 years in NYC). I don't, however, label people who give as being naive or, somehow, hurting by giving. As for your courageous advice, I can't wait for some innocent person, guilty only of being foolish enough to believe you, to be punched in the nose after he squares his shoulders, looks them in the eye and and tells them "No". Most people living in large cities coexist just fine with the homeless without needless confrontation.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

@GerryD: so it must also then be proven over and over that a significant minority does use it to sustain life.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

As a former police officer, I think he has a better perspective on what most panhandlers are doing with the money than people who walk by one or two a day. That's a better qualification than nearly anyone else is going to have. And he's right -- the more folks keep giving cash, the more the panhandling problem will persist and grow. If everyone (or even a substantial percentage of people) stopped giving handouts to panhandlers, the problem would start drying up fast. It's proven over and over than that vast majority of panhandlers are not putting the money to good use and those who really need help do find their way to the vast array of charitable organizations in this county. Finally, the fact you think that someone would be foolish to say no and may get punched in the face says a lot about the problem right there. If the situation really did rise to the level of physical attacks, there would be grounds for severe enforcement, additional laws, etc. Nancy Reagan said it right (in the wrong context): Just say No.

Tom Joad

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

Giving money to a panhandler is absurd. Of course it encourages them to remain idle and pester people who work for a living. A boss doesn't give you money just because you ask for it. You have to work for it. Panhandlers near ATMs are particularly intimidating to people. I'm withdrawing cash money. The ATM only dispenses $20 bills, like hell I'm going to give you one.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

@A2centsworth: I do understand you point and commend you for your actions. You are free to suggest that that I am &quot;romanticizing these panhandlers&quot;. You did refer to these people as two distinct group, so that would be the decent impoverished and the indecent impoverished. One group gets compassion and the other? So what . . they should just die already and decrease the surplus population?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

kmgeb2000: you are romanticizing these panhandlers. #1 they are not homeless, and #2 they are not hungry. They are looking for drunks and alchohol money, and your misplaced compassion does not fix the problem. Offer to drive them to the shelter for a meal, they wont go. The panhandlers are not the Ann Arbor local homeless people these are out of towners. The what I call, &quot;local&quot; homeless people in Ann Arbor do not ask for money. Those are the folks that I have often taken into a resturant and fed them, and they are so grateful for the food. They have never approached me, or asked me for anything. They are not the same people that have arrived in our town to panhandle. These are two distinctly different groups of folks.

Sarah Parviz

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Sigh, yes I do, but seeing as that is the name the poster I was agreeing with chose, it is the one I had to use to refer to him. Savvy?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

@Sarah - You do realize I was speaking of Tom Joad from The Grapes of Wrath?

Sarah Parviz

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

Um I think TOM JOAD should do whatever the H3ll he wants with his money, as he was the one who sacrificed loafing and time with his family to MAKE IT!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

@Tom Joad: Do you see the irony in you statement and the name you use? &quot;Giving money to panhandlers is absurd&quot; Now lets see what charactor &quot;Tom Joad&quot; would propose: How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him – he has known a fear beyond every other. I guess the buzzword of the day or the decade is not compassion, we leave that to another. Somebody else. So what if they &quot;fleece&quot; you or I for a buck. What will you do with it? Pay for 30-40 minutes of parking to eat at a fine restaurant. The credit card company will get more just by processing the transaction for the lunch and they're the litteral blood sucking leaches on society.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

Wow... Mr. Kinsey you make it sound as if you're fending off a wild animal. Square your shoulders, don't show fear, make loud noise... A simple &quot;no&quot; usually works just fine; and I'm not trying to defend panhandling by any means… It just seems to me you have lost sight of the fact that these are people you're talking about. You know… Someone just like you…


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

Right - not someone like him with no mental illness and no support. Sheesh. What an amazing world we live in where we can just brush aside those less fortunate.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

I agree. I was surprised he did not advise us to punch the person in the nose; it works for sharks. Alternatively, the bear attack advice; roll up in a ball on the ground (maybe I am confusing that with the old nuclear attack rules).


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

Not someone like mr Kinsey..... he appears to have worked hard, made his way in life and controlled any impulses that might have led him to an existence of harassing others to survive.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

Don't even give anyone a &quot;no&quot;. Just ignore them and keep walking unless they intentionally block your path. Then it's time to start screaming help or police. Even acknowledging one of these people with a &quot;no&quot; puts you in a bad situation. Just keep walking with the crowd.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

Yeah. I do generally scream for help whenever someone steps in my way. This method of dealing with such inconveniences as having to take a step to the side to get around someone has served me very well.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

It is different for a man walking alone, then for a mom with little kids.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Best advice yet. I don't really understand why people feel like they have to respond back to these guys. I don't and I have never had a problem because of it other than a dirty look. Who cares about that though? Stand up for yourself people, you have the power not them!


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.

The bum problem is overstated. I just walk by and ignore them. I've never been hassled. Downtown, especially the Main Street area, is too vibrant to avoid.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

It might be just because of size, though. I don't make eye contact. And I ignore them entirely when they speak. I don't get hassled. But I'm bigger than most of them and in good shape. I can imagine if I were female and walking alone (yes, I know, many Ann Arborites feel a woman walking alone deserves to be raped or robbed) one of the bums might feel emboldened to physically intimidate. Most bullies prey on people they feel they can easily defeat.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

When the people being &quot;hassled&quot; are in the same group as the people who suggest that you should scream for the police if someone gets in your way (see Chris 8 below) I feel perfectly justified in discounting their experiences. The evidence suggests that those who feel intimidated or uncomfortable suffer from a serious disconnect with reality and an overactive paranoid complex.

Smart Logic

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

I've practiced avoidance and have been hassled, followed, and more. Whether the problem is truly overstated I do not know, but you shouldn't discount others' experiences.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Agree 100%. I have lived here since 2008 &amp; find a brisk, 'No, sorry' w/ no eye contact works every time. It's a skill you have to have in every large city, too, so you don't freak out unnecessarily &amp;/or part with your $ next time you go to a Tigers game.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

This is why we, and I expect many others, avoid downtown. I don't need anymore stress in my life, sorry.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

Hahaha. We live here. It's funny that it's sounding so BIG CITY! Woot.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 4:29 a.m.

Oh, by the way, &quot;the bums made us go out of business&quot; is a really convenient excuse when the real story is &quot;we went out of business because we weren't good enough to keep attracting customers.&quot;

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Right. And this is America, so if you own a business you gain the immediate and scared right to dictate how public resources are used. Yep. The public streets are just that...public. They aren't open just to those people who are fortunate enough to be able to find a job or wealthy enough to pay for a permanent place to live.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Have you seen any of the previous news stories, actionjackson? It's not leaving more room for you at the dining table- it's leaving less dining tables. Businesses are saying it's an issue for their customers. Poshhh cited it as one of the reasons for going out of business.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Leaves more room for the rest of us at the dining table.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

In the winter, I give out those hand warmers that hunters use. I still feel good about helping someone, regardless of the drug problems in their life, and it will help stave off the cold. Anyone who says you shouldn't help people in need is someone that you should not be listening to.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

Yes, jinxplayer. How dare you feed their drinking or dope habit by giving them hand warmers? The more compassionate among us realize that if they get frostbite and their fingers fall off, they will no longer be able to drink or shoot up. By ensuring that they keep full use of their hands, you're simply enabling their habits. Shame on you.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

You're helping feed their drinking or dope habit. You feeling good about yourself doesn't help them get better as you're making the situation worse for them and postponing treatment. Give to local charities that assist homeless, not to homeless directly even though they're in your face even if it makes YOU feel better. Stop.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

Only in A2 would they build a 5 star shelter then complain about the homeless on the street. Thats like planting grass then complaining you have to mow it.

Michigan Reader

Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

You're painting with too broad a brush. Kinsey had NOTHING to do with building the shelter.


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

I know a lot of people who plant that grass, water, and add chemicals to it, and then complain. So it's not an Ann Arbor thing :)


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:30 a.m.

A lot of good info and advice in this column. Just envision that our city leaders and council personnel learned to do the same when encountering a request for a tax increase or for new art. Just envision that they could learn to say 'no'! I can dream, can't I?


Thu, Sep 29, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

Good (and knowledgeable) advice that will work for some. However, this does not substitute as a strategy for the city to address the problem. Many people feel intimidated into surrendering some cash, even if they would rather give the money to a charity. You can't blame pedestrians for "giving" under such circumstances. In addition, a panhandler's rather trivial investment in, at most, a cardboard sign doesn't need a huge "hit rate" to pay-off.