WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

How to treat the homeless: Do some U.S. cities' crackdowns go too far?

How to treat the homeless. Is there a way to help, but not to enable?

Various governmental jurisdictions - not to mention churches and charitable organizations - have wrestled with these questions for years, the problem exacerbated by the Great Recession.

Corollary question: Do you / should you give money to panhandlers?

Britain's INDEPENDENT newspaper makes the case that some U.S. cities' crackdowns have been inhumane. (Read some of the readers' comments too.)


Posted at 8:21am on August 4, 2014 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Aug 4, 2014 9:08am
I live in an area where almost everyday I see someone standing on one of the median strips at numerous busy highway intersections trying to collect money from stopped motorists, as they then walk in between the cars asking for a handout.

First question, why do the police allow this? It is a safety issue, because sometimes the light turns green and they don't get out of the way, thus they could easily be hit by a car. They have no business being there.

I can't go to the Wawa, Walgreeens, etc., without someone coming up to me while I pump gas or walk to or from the store, asking for money. This can be a bit frightening, because now they are up close to you, making you very vulnerable, if they pull a knife or gun. One day inside Pathmark, in the cereal aisle, a woman approached me asking for money, inside the store. I had a couple of kids approach me inside the Walgreens on day while I waiting for a prescription.

Those who live in working-class neighborhoods face this everyday. So now if you gave to everyone you saw, you'd end up being on the traffic island yourself asking for a handout.

People in Greenville, Hockessin, or Pike Creek Valley wouldn't understand as I never see panhandlers in their neighborhoods when I drive in those areas or shop at their stores.

Sadly, many of these panhandlers are doing this as their job [60 Minutes did a piece on this a number of years ago]. Many in that story made over $40K/yr tax-free.

As a Christian, I want to help the poor and needy, so I give to the local church food closets, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, the LCS {Lutheran Community Services] which has facilities serving the poor here in Wilmington and the New Castle area. When I feel led, I will give to help someone I see on the street, but I must confess that's rare.

Every church I know will not give money, but they have accounts with businesses for food, motel rooms, clothing, etc., so they'll send the family to say the XYZ motel to give them a room for the night while the pastor tries to find a more permanent solution, etc., etc.

I believe that panhandling should not be allowed at all on traffic intersections.

I'm not totally sure what the answers are, but maybe one is having the state round up some of these folks and place them in Hockessin, Greenville, etc., so those folks can better understand there is a real need and problem. It's easy for those more well-to-do folks to just ignore the problem.

There are two problems: First, people should be able to walk around free from some panhandler coming up to them begging for money [possibly someone who has a knife or gun and really wants to rob you of all your money]. Second, the real person in need wants to ask folks for money, while they seem to avoid the places that will help them. This implies to most folks that they really want the cash for cigs, booze, and drugs. So most folks aren't willing to give money to support their habits.

So maybe those cities aren't being cruel, but trying to force the homeless to go to the places most of us already support with our church donations and tax dollars, where their real needs can be met.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 10:11am
Keep in mind, across this time period, the top 1% has gotten wealthier, and wealthier. The homeless issue is nothing less than the reallocation of resources away from the 99% over to the 1%...

Last November, Veterans Administration officials were proud that the number of homeless veterans had dropped to 57,849 by January 2013. Of what they were particularly proud, was over the past 4 years, that they had pulled 20,000 homeless veterans off the streets and back into the work force...

As Afghanistan dwindles, we add more to that pile with every return plane...

Cruelty is the cause. Taxing the top 1% sufficiently and applying that to veterans would go a long way to getting people out of our intersections..

Republicans filibustered to stop a veterans' hiring program.

Republicans stopped long-term unemployment, cutting off the last lifeline to returning veterans.

Republicans stopped supporting adequate subsidized housing.

Republicans filibustered and stopped the job bill from moving forward.

Republicans cut back SNAP benefits to 900,000 veterans by 20%.

So what's a returning veteran who gets dumped with one paycheck, supposed to do? What job do you give to someone who - all they've ever known - is how to return fire?

There are almost as many veterans who are homeless as there are people in Wilmington, and far more than people in Newark. These numbers are larger than the famous surge we debated sending into Iraq.... and now, over 57,000 are homeless.

Republican policies created this. Anytime you vote to give $270 BILLION in tax-cuts to the top 1% who already are taking the lion's share of the nation's finances, and cut benefits to American servicemen returning from up to 6 consecutive tours of duty for their country, you are on the edge of being a morally bankrupt nation...

One party pushed us there. And only the other party can bring us back...

Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest drag is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: The chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them.

Republicans are killing America. The homeless veterans are just one more symptom of that cancerous disease.

In a way, every vote for a Republican, is a vote against all the good America has ever stood for....

We know what to do. Tax the top 1% whatever it takes; begin construction projects to repair infrastructure in every state, and spent the top 1%'s money like there is no tomorrow. That works, and will work, if all Republicans are removed from office... Till then, at least you can show your patriotism and pay up at these intersections when asked to those real heroes who, like all of us, got shafted by the Republican Party...

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Aug 4, 2014 10:41am
Kavips: Have you ever considering running for office. I'd vote for you. We need more people in power with such a vision and understanding of the issues as you seem to have. Excellent explanation of the situation.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 10:57am
”How to treat the homeless. Is there a way to help, but not to enable?”

Treat the homeless like people…that’s the first step. Many treat homeless people as if they were lepers and below humans. Some homeless actually want to be without home (they want to be free of what society says they need) but most are homeless due to drug addiction or mental illness and no family to help them out. I have volunteered at a rescue mission in Detroit that helps the homeless by feeding them and providing shelter…they also provide the opportunity to get “back on track” if they wish. Those who want to can live at the shelter, work at the shelter (serving food/making food/cleaning)… and after a few months get a job in the world outside of the mission.
There are many places that feed and provide shelter to the homeless, but what most need/want is a chance/opportunity to “clean up” and get back to a “normal” life…the biggest difference I’ve seen in success/failure is whether or not the shelter is run by Christians (using the Bible/faith to help and as a guideline) or if the shelter is run by the non-Christians. The success rate for the Christian-run vs. secular is very different…God can make a difference IF you let Him.

Corollary question: Do you / should you give money to panhandlers?
Quick answer is money(no)…food(yes), water/soda(yes), coffee(yes).

As to the politics angle…Democrats are enablers and Republicans largely ignore the problem entirely.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 12:30pm
Mike and I have discussed it before. But when people are down and out, sometimes the best thing you can give them is self respect. In the Great Depression, we offered men a dollar a day, room and board, to do work for America...(Civilian Conservation Corps) They planted trees, (windbreaks), cleared brush out of the National Forests, built ponds and dams in parks, and basically got nothing more than their self respect back and a little start up money. When able to move one, they did...

There comes a time when self respect needs an outside force to make it happen. Earl is a case in Detroit. But when everyone is broke, for real change, when only the government can reallocate resources away from the top 1%, then that should be its duty. Everyone standing in its way of accomplishing that, needs to quietly step aside.

Now this may sound like the opposite of what I just said, but this self respect motif actually ties in well with what Earl says... For when the opposite tack is taken, and TOO MUCH is given for too little asked, it too causes one to lose their self respect. It makes them susceptible to the taunts of being lazy and unproductive,and they feel they don't deserve the benefits they get, but in this world, it is stupid to turn away free money.. When that point comes, and it has come in the past, "enabling" is exactly that. It makes one lose their self respect in return for a little money...

America needs to bounce back. That is especially true of the middle class. One giant step in the right direction would be to establish a CCC and yes, it would have to be federally funded, because the Fed is the only entity large enough to tax the top 1% (they can easily buy votes in state legislators and curry favor from state governors preventing it on that level). Once a CCC is established, and I think $20 a day would be cheap enough along with room and board, then we can begin using this human resource to clean up those parts of America having been neglected for so long...

Let's give the homeless self respect and the chance to hope once more, so that America can again be the land of promise for anyone, and everyone.

In a way, Earl and I are much in the same vein of political philosophy; the giant difference is that he believes the philosophy stated in the 80's, when today, more of that philosophy which came out of the mists of the Great Depression, is urgently needed. If Earl lives long enough, his views may again be right at some future point, once prosperity returns and the the top 1% truly do begin to be taxed too much for everyone's common good...... At that point I will probably be on his side.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 1:45pm
kavips: I agree with you on the need to offer employment to those who truly want to work and want to keep their self-respect (as was done during the Great Depression), but wasn't it "the greatest president ever" who removed that Clinton-era policy from the books?
We need to do anything possible to reduce unemployment and homelessness, but the current administration seems to only enable those who are tired of working...it's especially tough to choose working if (after taxes/healthcare/food/housing) they end up with the same paycheck as those who have decided not to work.

AND, IF the current group of illegal immigrants are granted amnesty by the president via Executive power...is that going to help reduce the unemployment rate for those already unable to find a basic job to pay rent or home payments?...the only ones who will benefit are Democrat politicians and the 1% employers.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 4:41pm
Earl: I have no idea to what you are referring with this: "wasn't it "the greatest president ever" who removed that Clinton-era policy from the books?" Usually I can pick up your references, but I'm totally lost on this one. More detail, please.

Next, ... where is your source stating that the current administration seems only to enable those who are tired of working? That sounds like it comes from myth territory.

And yes, IF it were true that people working did get the same paycheck as those not working, you might have a point. Do you know how much Delaware unemployment is? It is not close to what one gets while working. Receiving unemployment does not provide any incentive to not work. It only provides an minimum insurance payment so one does not lose everything between jobs.....

And if the current group of children do receive amnesty, they will do little to reduce the hiring wage years from now when they enter the workforce. They will enter at minimum wage. Which is non negotiable. Even if all of them work, at 50,000 laborers, that is 0.000158 or 0.016 of one percent of the population.... That is just 50,000 people and each month there are over 200,000 jobs created as charted by the BLM.... Even if they all were hired on one day, one week; there still is demand for that 150,000 unfilled positions in that month alone....

None of these myths work in the real world. If you are truly concerned about the salaries being earned by the middle class, you should get involved with organizing unions.... so they get what they are worth out of their employers.

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Aug 4, 2014 6:34pm
Kavips & EarlGrey : Good discussion, excellent points.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 8:00pm
Sunday Breakfast Mission, baby!

Mon, Aug 4, 2014 9:35pm
The 1996 welfare reform law required that a portion of the able-bodied adults in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — the successor to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program — work or prepare for work. Those work requirements were the heart of the reform’s success: Welfare rolls dropped by half, and the poverty rate for black children reached its lowest level in history in the years following.

But the Obama administration has jettisoned the law’s work requirements, asserting that, in the future, no state will be required to follow them. In place of the legislated work requirements, the administration has stated, it will unilaterally design its own “work” systems without congressional involvement or consent. Any state will be free to follow the new Obama requirements “in lieu of” the written statute.


During the '90s, Clinton got out of the way of the economy, Congress controlled spending, tens of millions of jobs were created, and the economy exploded. Because most of America was working and paying taxes (instead of unemployed, paying no taxes, and draining revenues through welfare and food stamps), tax revenues flooded into the Treasury, and we enjoyed the first federal surpluses in years.

This is exactly the opposite of what President 0bama has done. Instead, 0bama went full-Kenyesian economic model, exploded the deficit into the trillions (7 TRILLION added under 0bama); micro-managed, punished, and terrorized the free market with the EPA, IRS and ObamaCare; and constantly creates economic uncertainty with non-stop class-warfare talk and promises of tax increases.

So, maybe you and the "greatest prez ever" should work on creating jobs (for that desired increase of tax revenue) rather than placing all woes on higher taxes for all.

Tue, Aug 5, 2014 4:52pm
At the train station I saw a sign posted where MLK joins 13, stating that loitering for the prime purpose of panhandling was a violation of several Wilmington statutes and could extract a fine as high as $750 dollars....

Hadn't seen it before, so it went up these past two weeks.

Tue, Aug 5, 2014 6:21pm
Earl: thank you for the links. I remember of what you speak now..,

If you only read trash, you will think trash.. First, the Washington Post article is not a Post editorial. But a guest post from the Heritage Foundation, a documented propaganda organization. Your second source has been panned here quite often as well: Breitbart. another propaganda source. By propaganda source, we will use the definition that such sources do not report verifiable facts, just spin fiction that seem to support their pre-held view... For example: if your pre-held view of humanity was that all people are stupid, and you were Breitbart or the Heritage Foundation, you would ignore all scientific journals, and just study Wal*mart cams.... with illustration after illustration to prove your point.

Case in point. The Post article... Written by one of the Heritage senior research operatives who was involved in formulating the Welfare Reform of 96...

Here is Heritage's propaganda.... exposed.

Robert Rector-- "the Obama administration has jettisoned the law’s work requirements, asserting that, in the future, no state will be required to follow them. In place of the legislated work requirements, the administration has stated, it will unilaterally design its own “work” systems without congressional involvement or consent. Any state will be free to follow the new Obama requirements “in lieu of” the written statute."

Now, here is the law itself....


Here is what it says, and to be honest, is very Tea Partian in tone... (states rights)

"Section 1115 of the Social Security Act provides authority for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider and approve experimental, pilot, or demonstration projects which, in the Secretary’s judgment, are likely to assist in promoting the objectives of Title IV-A....HHS will ONLY consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF."

"Projects that demonstrate attainment of superior employment outcomes if a state is held accountable for negotiated employment outcomes in lieu of participation rate requirements."

Now background. During the giant recession when unemployment was extremely high, many states could not give TANF to needy families because of the work requirements.. Most states able to only process a 1000 new applicants per week, were being hit with 100,000's of thousands of new applicants. Which meant that thought funds were available, that under the law, 99,000 people could not get assistance because of the monitoring required to put this in place. The waivers were temporary (5 year maximum), all are expired now, and allowed states to do whatever they thought necessary to process the backlog....

The success of this program, can be evidenced in the number of people working today, the great jobs report, the fact that businesses are finally starting to reinvest and grow jobs, and all those wonderful things that return us to Democratic prosperity, after George Bush and republican policies sold the cart out from under us....

Obama's plan worked. What the Republicans proposed and argued, made things worse. This author's plan is similar to "letting Detroit FAIL" ... We needed the monetary infusion TANF provided into our economy and this allowed for it to happen...

Which is why anyone at the Heritage Foundation, is treated as a quack now days.....

As for Breitbart, listen to this in the article to which Earl links....

"President Obama spent nearly a trillion dollars of our children's and grandchildren's money in a Kenyesian binge that not only hasn't lowered unemployment or created economic growth, but likely got in the way of what would've been a stronger economic recovery had Obama simply done nothing." Really? Again, this is the exact same philosophy of those who said "let Detroit FAIL"... people who had money and wanted to buy America for pennies. The idea of this non- intervention by government, was disproved in Hoover's time. Remember Hoover had 3 years to impact the Great Recession and it was his firm belief that it would get better on its own, that gave the Democrats the greatest landslide in History. Hoover was flat out wrong. Breitbart, in mimicing Hoover is equally as flat out wrong... Which is wny no one takes Breitbart seriously. Breitbart's proper place should be next to either the Star or National Enquirer, perched in the checkout line.....

So let's rip a huge hole in Breitbart for all to see.... Take what they said here....

"During the '90s, Clinton got out of the way of the economy, Congress controlled spending, tens of millions of jobs were created, and the economy exploded. Because most of America was working and paying taxes (instead of unemployed, paying no taxes, and draining revenues through welfare and food stamps), tax revenues flooded into the Treasury, and we enjoyed the first federal surpluses in years...."

Oh, they forgot something. Why no mention of this?.. Clinton and the Democrats raised the top marginal percent from 28% up to 40% which caused the wealthy to divert their profits into investing in the economy instead of raking it off from the top.

Consequently, the Welfare package worked because of the boom which the change in tax code wrought, so jobs were there to be taken. When the Welfare change came down, unemployment was in the 4.2% range...
Now let us count the lies…. (Breitbart speaking here)

1. "We created 23 million jobs…" ---We? This is Obama pretending his economic plan in any way resembles Clinton's, when the complete opposite is true.

2. "…asking folks like me who have been incredibly blessed…" ---No one blessed these folks, unless their last name is Kennedy – most of them they worked their butts off.

3. "I’ll cut out government spending that’s not working, that we can’t afford…" So says the president who normalized the word TRILLIONS into discussions of our federal budget and deficits.

4. "…but I’m also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well." ---Yeah, because it was those tax increases that created the economic boom and nothing else. What about what Clinton didn’t do? Clinton didn’t terrify the free market with Obama Care (though he tried), didn’t suppress job creators with Dodd-Frank, didn’t run around demanding tax increases on job creators, didn't demean job creators, and didn’t explode the deficit in ways we never imagined possible.
Now isn't that the stupidest economic argument ever made?

The first point, quibbling over who was "we"... Who cares. Today we know the tax rate caused the boom and the Bush Tax Cut caused the depression...

The second point, quibbling over "blessed"...? Really? At the time of this speech anyone still having a job, was indeed blessed....

The third point... Today the deficit is dropping yearly for the first time since Clinton. We are cutting out so much that even Mr. Pizza has said he was wrong about Obama... So, yes it is true. As for the trillions, remember that Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential pick of Mitt Romney, himself voted for both big TARP hits to the deficit... If Paul Ryan was right this once, Breitbart then has to be wrong...

And finally, point 4... These Breitbart guys are real fools.. A, The Clinton Tax rate did cause intense investment leading to the longest expansion in American history. B. Clinton certainly tried to get Healthcare into action, but failed to win the propaganda war, which ultimately caused Bush and Medicare Part D (prescriptions)meant to plug the holes the Clinton Plan would have, to swell the deficit by another trillion (why doesn't Breitbart mention this?). D.. The proponents of Dodd Frank were already in existence. Back then, though it was called the New Deal and had been around since Roosevelt. The W. Bush administration is who gutted them, causing them to be re-enacted as the Dodd-Frank by popular demand. and E. The deficit was exploded by W. Bush with tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare Part D. Congress approved the TARP which stabilized the fall of the economy and from that point it began rebounding...

These rebutted points show that Breitbart is impossible to take seriously. If Earl believes these are true, than that makes him pretty silly. Breitbart is written as propaganda, not accounts of how things really happened... Everyone who knows history, knows what Breitbart just said here, was complete fabrication...

Which is why no one, no one. takes Breitbart seriously... No one.. So as to answer Earl's claim, Obama did not gut the Clinton mandates to welfare-back-to-work. They are all still in effect to day...

Tue, Aug 5, 2014 7:59pm

Wed, Aug 6, 2014 9:00am
No the Clinton work-mandates are not still in effect...and Clinton himself has pointed out this FACT.

...your post is pure propaganda that only a "true believer" still trusts.

Wed, Aug 6, 2014 9:03am
...Maybe you should purge your cookies and try using a search engine other than G0oGL3 to find results. There are quite a few articles (other than the two I posted) that support my claims.

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach