Don't Celebrate Bums
Yet more proof from yet another city that panhandlers aren't the ones who need the help, yet it's like pulling teeth around here to get an ordinance that the cops can enforce against the bums that infest the Drag and downtown Austin. The homeless that deserve help are, for the most part, getting it from charities. These bums on street corners, on the other hand, just don't want to work.
The same type of expose ran on one of the stations in Miami about fifteen years ago with similar results - except even more appalling; they GAVE food to one of the "Will Work For Food" guys, and he threw it away. Then they came back and gave him money and watched where he went - which, of course, was the liquor store.
I remember one time when I was walking down 6th Street from my condo to a show and was accosted by a bum for money. I ignored him; and he started following me and yelling at me. At that time, even I was rethinking my decision to be on the sidewalk at night instead of in my car, and those who know me know that doesn't happen easily.
One of the biggest obstacles to restoring downtown Austin into a place where people want to live, work, and play is these obnoxious bums. I can't believe that any executive thinking of moving a company's offices downtown is going to enjoy running the gauntlet of beggars that render certain corridors stinky and barely navigable. This hurts our city's economy as companies stay away from the center-city, where the infrastructure to support them already exists, and stay out in the burbs or leave Austin's city limits entirely. A weak economy means less money available for the groups that really DO help the homeless.
There's nothing noble about begging; and those who try the hardest to help the homeless actually discourage the public from donating at streetcorners; but this doesn't stop professional protestors like Richard Troxell. I don't know how this can be solved until people who want to help the homeless can stand up and distinguish between those who want help, and those who just want a hand-out.