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City Panhandling Strategy

ducati0000

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Take away the reason they are doing it...fine them...same as those taggers..fine them and make them remove the "art"...why is it so hard to get things done in City Hall,why does it always have to be political correct?.:mad:
 

Malthus

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What I dislike is not begging per se, but those who approach you and attempt to engage you in a long, rambling conversation about some problem they have ... with their brother ... was supposed to meet them with his truck ... and so on and on and on, which eventually *leads* to begging.

This approach pisses me off, because listening to it wastes my time - I'd much rather hear "I'm begging, got any spare change?" (and I'd be more inclined to actually give cash). Moreover, it is somewhat coersive, since you can only get out of it by what in other circumstances would be considered rudeness.

Now, when I hear it, I'm inclined to just cut the guy off before his spiel gets going.

For some reason, these guys are now reasonably common in the shopping area in my neighbourhood (on Bloor fronting the Kingsway). I got importuned twice in consecutive days by beggars of this variety last week. They must travel out here specifically.
 

Admiral Beez

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Take away the reason they are doing it...fine them...same as those taggers..fine them and make them remove the "art"...why is it so hard to get things done in City Hall,why does it always have to be political correct?.:mad:
You'll never accuse me of political correctness, but fining won't work. if you don't have any money, then you can't pay the fine. If you're homeless, then a night in jail might be better than the men's shelter.

What you need to do is go after the factors that sustain the panhandlers, by stopping those that give money, and stopping those that give the beggars shelter (i.e. make a charge of begging reason for refusal entry to a shelter). With no money, and no place to live, beggars will stop begging, or move elsewhere.
 

urbandreamer

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There's a Native guy I sometimes chat with who "owns" the corner of Simcoe and Richmond. On Sunday, as I was finishing my photo tour I stopped to chat again. He told me he averages $20/day on that corner. Not bad at all--that's more than a welfare cheque ($560 monthly I believe) and you don't have to pay rent! I'm actually kinda jealous--the freedom from responsibilities, rent, etc must be kinda nice! Especially in the summer.

For $20 daily, you get free meals, and if you avoided drinking/drugs/smoking, could save more money than the average worker in Toronto!

My new career? Stay tuned Mr Beez.:)
 

unimaginative2

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Proposal to help get panhandlers off streets receives strong endorsement

JEFF GRAY

With a report from Jennifer Lewington

May 6, 2008

Business leaders, the police and a prominent left-wing advocate for the homeless endorsed a proposed $5-million-a-year city strategy to help panhandlers off the streets yesterday, leaving council opponents of the mayor virtually alone in their opposition to the plan.

Mayor David Miller's executive committee yesterday unanimously approved the proposal to expand the city's Streets to Homes program - which finds apartments for homeless people - to hire the equivalent of 48 more full-time temporary staff so outreach workers can use a similar approach to help panhandlers, some of whom may already have places to live. The plan will now go before city council later this month.

The proposal, which would see panhandlers coaxed into addiction counselling and even jobs with local businesses, was applauded yesterday as a world-leading initiative by members of downtown business-improvement associations, which had been involved in a year-long effort with city staff and the mayor's office to come up with a plan.

Security was tightened at yesterday's meeting in case of protests. However, the tone contrasted with a hearing last year on the issue, in which business owners complained of assaults and public urinating and called panhandling a form of "organized crime," while activists for the homeless compared those calling for a crackdown to the Nazis.

It was after that meeting that city housing bureaucrats, including those that run the mayor's Streets to Homes scheme - credited with getting 1,700 people off the streets since 2005 - sat down with the affected business leaders and began to draft the new anti-panhandling strategy, conducting a pilot project and surveying the city's panhandlers.

In addition to business groups, the committee heard from Michael Shapcott, an advocate for the homeless who had criticized Streets to Homes, who said he supported the panhandling plan. Councillors also heard from Superintendent Hugh Ferguson, commander of downtown's 52 Division, who approved of the city's proposed approach and acknowledged that current methods are simply not working.

Supt. Ferguson said that while there has been a dramatic 288-per-cent increase in tickets given to "aggressive" panhandlers since 2004, most of the fines are never paid as many of the accused do not show up in court, and police believe their efforts are having little effect on the street.

In the past, conservative voices on council would hassle the left-leaning mayor and his supporters by calling for a crackdown on panhandling or a city bylaw to make it illegal, cheered on by downtown business owners. Yesterday's meeting left it to Mr. Miller's council critics to raise questions about the program's costs.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) argued police should be instructed to go after panhandlers and arrest them if they are breaking the law, saying that New York and other American cities had cleaned up their panhandling problems, an assertion disputed by city staff.

"If the panhandling community saw that the city was taking a tough approach, we'd see less panhandling," Mr. Minnan-Wong said.

Brad Butt, president of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, which represents landlords, was one of several business spokesmen who appeared at yesterday's committee to endorse the strategy.

In an interview, he said the city's approach makes economic sense: "The right-wing guys, even though I agree with them most of the time on issues, if these guys are dollars-and-cents councillors, then this is clearly the most effective way, the most efficient way and the cheapest way to deal with this problem."

He said that compared to the enormous costs of hospital beds, jails and homeless shelters, the cheapest way to help is to provide panhandlers with social services such as housing allowances and mental-health or addiction counselling.
 

Mystic Point

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I have an idea. Why not hire some of the currently unemployed film production set people to design a gated virtual downtown Toronto theme park for the panhandlers. Panhandlers like city living. But city people don't like panhandlers.

Under this plan, a virtual downtown Toronto of say 5 acres would constructed some 100 miles outside of the real city. It would come complete with streets, parks, stores, houses and apartments. There would be a restaurant/grocery store/liquor store, all automated and all free. None of the stores would have employees, as it would unnecessary. Above the retail, would be apartments. We could build a virtual reproduction of the Annex. The homes would be heated, furnished and come equipped with TV's. Quarterly, blankets, clothes and pillows would be dropped off at the virtual train or subway station. On the streets, there would cars. But no one in them. So there would be no rush hour traffic.

Here in the virtual Toronto, the panhandlers could live. And live fairly well, with all their needs met.

Each panhandler is free to come and go. And if they showed up again in Toronto, they would be escorted back to the Virtual Toronto by cheerful social workers.

As outlandish as plan as this may sound, it would probably be just as effective as the Mayor's current plan. And who knows, it may be prove to actually cost less.
 

lordmandeep

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I don't mind panhandlers, the loud ones that harass people are the ones who really lower the quality of life.
 

Admiral Beez

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Is there a real organized racket going on amongst the panhandlers that are now standing at the exits from the DVP, Gardiner, River St. to Bayview, etc? I ask this since whenever I drive by these exits or junctions I see one lone figure there begging, in many cases its with the same cardboard sign as the different guy from the day before. In same cases, such as the exit from the DVP at Eglinton Avenue, there are no shelters or homeless services anywhere nearby.

Thus, my suspicion is that this is an organized panhandling racket. Someone is organizing this, assigning different people to different areas, driving the panhandlers to the assorted collection points throughout the city, and then picking them up afterward. If it wasn't organized you'd have four or five guys fighting over a spot every morning, since a mindset of first come first served is unlikely adhered to.

What I don't understand is why the city isn't clamping down on this road side panhandling. The very moment they step out on to the road to panhandle you can charge them with highway traffic act violations, for example.
 

Ramako

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Saw a story on City news today about business owners on Spadina hiring private secuirty guards to deal with aggressive panhandlers.
 

Mustapha

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Spadina Ave. - that reminds me of the 'deaf' beggars who have a little card with some sign language on it that they drop off on your table and come back for change. The Chinese restaurant owners let this happen and it's a shame. It's been going on for decades. I do believe that you can get disability if you are deaf.
 

Admiral Beez

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The thing is, I don't care if the panhandlers are defined as aggressive or not. If a visitor to Toronto comes out of a theatre production and sees a beggar standing at the doorway with his cup and cardboard sign asking for money, that's too much for me.
 

lordmandeep

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imo that is the cost of us all become "soft" here in Toronto...
 

egotrippin

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Y'know, I keep seeing the 'Tanks in Toronto' thread and the 'Toronto Panhandling Strategy' thread beside each other in the Toronto Issues forum... I think I've got some ideas that involve combining the two.
 

Northern Light

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Handing Panhandling

While I have little time for people willfully choosing to mooch off others, particularly if doing so through anything that smacks of intimidation....

I think it remains very important to realize that we need better to measures in place to tackle poverty; and jail is not high on my list.

It costs $100,000 a year to keep someone in jail; About $40,000 to keep them in a hostel and about $20,000 to keep them in social housing and on welfare.

So while I don't want people choosing not to work for their money; I think its important to note that treating poverty is still cheaper via carrot than stick.

****

I hasten to add that we need to do more to help people, both those who are down on their luck; those working hard in low-skill jobs AND those who screwed up their own lives.

Again, the issue being, that even if someone hooked themselves on booze, alcohol or chose to drop out school; society is better off investing in getting them addiction treatment and a high school diploma, rather than imprisoning them. Its just cheaper, if nothing else!

Not to mention if we get them gainfully employed they'll pay tax!

*****

I think its important to combine both the carrot and stick approaches.

That is to say, we need to make it clear pan-handling is unacceptable; but we also need to be prepared, as a society, to find someone a constructive alternative to support themselves; and to help them financially while they get training or addiction treatment or whatever help they need.

On the stick side:

Judges need to be empowered to ORDER addiction treatment. (right now its voluntary, even for convicted criminals)

We also need to have some greater teeth in laws around mental illness, to ensure people are staying on their meds, OR staying in an appropriate institution.

On the carrot side:

Amongst other things.....

We need to improve treatment programs to get people in the door faster (multi-week waits screw everything up)

We need more room in facilities for the mentally ill.

A higher minimum wage, so someone working 40 hours, no matter how entry-level their job can support themselves.

A greater focus on cutting drop-out rates, by both carrot and stick.

(more adult ed. programs, free childcare for people who become parents too soon (in order to finish high school); more focus on co-op and practical education for those that are not university-bound; and more privileges revoked for those who decline finishing school (ie. no drivers' license))
 
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