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Roadside Begging

Admiral Beez

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Has anyone else noticed that beggars at the roadside have become far more prevalent? I drive from Steeles and Dufferin to downtown east and every day at every main intersection from Finch to Allen Rd and Eglinton I see folks with cardboard signs and the requisite Tim Horton's cup walking up and down the curb, or even down the middle line between two lanes. It's the same along Lakeshore and Jarvis. Last week my wife was driving at Spadina and Davenport and a women standing in the road asked for money and when my wife politely declined the women started punching the car, making some small dents. Now many exits along the 401 in Toronto have a beggar standing by. I'm also seeing the demographic change from the old guy to younger men and now at Dufferin and Finch seemingly teenage girls.

We've had homeless forever and mentally ill street people since Peterson and Rae closed the asylums in the early 1990s, but I don't remember this level of roadside begging in the last decade. Where do the come from? How are they organized to avoid conflict? How do they get to the distant begging spots, such as on the 401? Why is this an increasing thing?

This article shows how roadside begging is impacting our compassion for the homeless https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9bgwve/how-cardboard-signs-changed-the-face-of-panhandling-in-america-518

'The money is not helping these people': Burlington grapples with roadside beggars
Where did they come from, and what can be done about the city's panhandlers?

To be clear, I understand that begging, or the somehow more acceptable term panhandling is not a crime. But something has changed to make the road side variety more prevalent. Of course, you can't really blame the beggars, like bears to the garbage dump, you go where the getting is good, and if drivers are willing to give out cash from their cars, then that's where you'd go. Cities try to stop drivers, but there's obviously enough that won't listen. The only thing that seems to stop roadside begging in Toronto is the winter climate, that great annual shake of the Etch A Sketch that resets the landscape.

'No panhandling' sign won't deter begging, critics say


I suppose the rise of roadside begging in the early 2000s will see a significant drop in the mid-2000s as we both move out of our cars and no one has physical cash to give.
 
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Woodbridge_Heights

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I goes in cycles. Although we are not in a recession per se, the economy has been slowing down/stalling over the past 12 months. This is often reflected in those who are already living at the margins.

Add to that despite the economic slowdown the cost of things has continued to increase, the housing bubble has not popped yet, etc, etc.
 

Admiral Beez

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@Woodbridge_Heights You're probably right. But I've always wondered how they're organized. How is the territory assigned or conflict reduced, and how do they get to the locations?

CityTV had a look into this.....but not exclusively the road side variety that I'm referring to here. I can see how downtown anyone can be a sidewalk beggar, but it takes logistical support to get yourself placed to 401 and Markham Rd.

 
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Neutrino

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I looked into this as a school project last year and apparently there's an elaborate system based on seniority among the beggars. They do also get into physical fights occasionally over turf. My anecdotal evidence of driving along Steeles is that there seem to be many more beggars over the last few years.
 

Woodbridge_Heights

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@Woodbridge_Heights You're probably right. But I've always wondered how their organized. How is the territory assigned or conflict reduced, and how do they get to the locations?

CityTV had a look into this.....but not exclusively the road side variety that I'm referring to here. I can see how downtown anyone can be a sidewalk beggar, but it takes logistical support to get yourself placed to 401 and Markham Rd.

LOL Crinimals. Sorry I don't mean to make fun of him
 

.dwg

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It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that cuts to various social services throughout recent decades might result in more people living at the margins and eventually doing whatever they need to do to make a living.
 

bangkok

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It's also very dangerous, particularly at some of the high speed highway off ramps. With the amount of distracted driving occurring in the GTA, people wandering live lanes and camped out at the corners of intersections is just not safe. Some of the activity I see at the Southdown road/QEW interchange makes me cringe.
 

Admiral Beez

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It's also very dangerous, particularly at some of the high speed highway off ramps. With the amount of distracted driving occurring in the GTA, people wandering live lanes and camped out at the corners of intersections is just not safe. Some of the activity I see at the Southdown road/QEW interchange makes me cringe.
I used to work at the corner of Hurontario and QEW and I also remember the beggars walking between cars.

The most dangerous I see is downtown east where beggars will walk up and down between the lanes and then just stand there in the middle of the road daring folks to hit them.
 

Tuscani01

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It's also very dangerous, particularly at some of the high speed highway off ramps. With the amount of distracted driving occurring in the GTA, people wandering live lanes and camped out at the corners of intersections is just not safe. Some of the activity I see at the Southdown road/QEW interchange makes me cringe.
I mean, sure its not safe - but the real issue in that scenario is that drivers aren't being safe.

I've also noticed a massive spike in the number of street people in the GTA in the past 2-3 years. I have even seen squeegee kids out and about again - and its been years since I last got my windshield cleaned by one. I wonder if it has to do with the sudden spike in immigration that we have experienced, and the inability of our shelter system to adapt quick enough.
 

Translude15

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Anecdotally, I've noticed the presence of panhandlers has increased over the last 5 years or so. It's across all areas of the GTA now. I see an almost daily rotation of different people at the main intersections I frequent:

1. 403-Erin Mills
2. QEW-Erin Mills
3. 427-Dundas
4. 401-Morningside

The rotation I see includes older men and women as well as younger ones as well. The younger individuals tend to be (presumably) recent immigrants. There are two older men who appear at 401-Morningside most often. I've seen them going at it over what appeared to be some sort of turf war. As Neutrino mentioned earlier, there's definitely a hierarchy oversees these groups.
 

Deadpool X

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I mean, sure its not safe - but the real issue in that scenario is that drivers aren't being safe.

I've also noticed a massive spike in the number of street people in the GTA in the past 2-3 years. I have even seen squeegee kids out and about again - and its been years since I last got my windshield cleaned by one. I wonder if it has to do with the sudden spike in immigration that we have experienced, and the inability of our shelter system to adapt quick enough.
Immigrants come through 3 routes -
1. skilled workers (they usually have masters degree and enough money in their home country and won't be begging),
2. students (if they can spend lot more than domestic students for the same education, they won't be begging),
3. family reunification (parents of immigrants living here. To sponsor their parents, they need to show that they have enough money to add 1/2 more non-earning family members. Of course, they won't beg either)

The ones who are begging are more likely to be born here or those who have recently arrived as refugees (since refugees are not chosen on the basis of skills, education, fluency in English, or savings). All immigrants need to show proof of funds among other things before they can be issued permanent residence.
 

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