What to do about panhandling in Utah's capital city? Indeed, how does society strike a balance between traditional Judeo-Christian values of reaching out to the truly needy, while getting a handle on a practice where compelling evidence reveals people are taking advantage of the citizenry's inherent generosity?
Salt Lake City business and political leaders are convinced panhandling has become a business for many. Their research, they say, suggests most panhandlers are not homeless. Most have a place to live. And many make anywhere from $20 to $50 per hour panhandling on the streets of the city.
Furthermore, they say money given to panhandlers is money that could be better spent supporting social service organizations that actually help the homeless and otherwise needy. For example, instead of giving money to a panhandler, those begging should be kindly directed toward places where help is available.
As we said, city leaders make a compelling case for their new aggressive approach to dealing with the problem. KSL believes the city's campaign to ban panhandling has merit.
That said, as the campaign moves forward, it should be used to augment, not supplant society's moral obligation to assist and care for those in society who are down and out, and genuinely in need of help.