(Memphis) “Just say no!”
That’s the motto the Downtown Memphis Commission wants you to remember if you’re ever approached by a panhandler. It says giving panhandlers money doesn’t help the homeless, it hurts them.
It’s almost as common as “hello” on the streets of Memphis: “Can you spare some change?”
“I don`t normally give them money because I don`t know how they`ll spend it,” said Memphis Resident Franklin Beam.
Some say Beam’s got it right.
“You don`t have to be rude. Just say ‘no’ firmly and politely,” said Paul Morris, the president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.
In fact, with posters and business cards, DMC wants to remind everybody that your pocket change could be better used somewhere else, “Please give money and give it to the Community Alliance for the Homeless and give it to the Hospitality Hub.”
Morris says when you give panhandlers cash you are more often than not supporting negative addictions instead of helping their problems, “You are actually causing great harm because there are organizations that spend that spend every day trying to rehabilitate people and you frustrate their efforts when you are giving cash out.”
“Number one, most panhandlers are not actually homeless and by far, most homeless don`t panhandle,” he said.
Take, Franklin Beam, the man we introduced you to earlier.
“I never expected to find myself in this situation,” said Beam.
Without a job, he’s recently found himself homeless.
“Have you asked for money from people on the streets?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.
“I would never do that,” said Beam.
He’s not asking for change. He’s letting a higher power provide it, “I am a Christian and I ask God to provide me with what I need and if he doesn`t provide it then I don’t need it.”
The DMC says you can report panhandling by calling its offices at 575-0556