Monty Bennett Calls to Help the Truly Homeless


Homeless person on sidewalk | Image by Shutterstock

Most panhandlers in Dallas are not actually homeless.

In fact, only 20% of Dallas panhandlers are considered homeless by the city.

Ashley Guevara, a public affairs officer for City Hall, told The Dallas Express, “Roughly 20% [of panhandlers] are homeless,” figures derived from the nonprofit OurCalling working in collaboration with the Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions.

Recently, the City government discouraged residents from giving money directly to panhandlers. “Giving spare change without offering support could make matters worse,” the City tweeted on Thursday. “Be the solution and GIVE RESPONSIBLY.”

Instead, the City encourages concerned individuals to help through its Give Responsibly program, which urges people to donate money to organizations that provide support for the homeless.

On Monday, local hotelier and philanthropist Monty Bennett spoke on this very topic of panhandlers in front of the Metropolitan Civic and Business Association. “They can panhandle for money to buy drugs; people give them free food and free tents. Many of them are addicts that desperately need our help. But instead of helping them, we enable them.”

“I’ve offered many of them many jobs over the years,” Bennett continued. “Everyone has turned me down. Everyone. Why should they take work when there are people that will hand them money for doing nothing?”

“The vagrants and the panhandlers will persist in this lifestyle for as long as we allow them to. A few months ago, Lou Darrouzet, MCBA’s Chief Executive Officer, went and visited an organization called Haven for Hope in San Antonio. They provide a single focal point of contact for services. It helps those who truly want help by concentrating services for them in one location. Why have we not done that in Dallas?” Bennett asked the assembled crowd of business leaders.

During a city council meeting on Wednesday, Jake Colglazier of Keep Dallas Safe, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to preserving a safe and prosperous community and supporting responsible law enforcement,” criticized the city government for its “Housing First” approach to dealing with the crisis of homelessness and vagrancy in Dallas.

“The City is offloading the risk and responsibility of dealing with these dangerous and illegal encampments throughout the City of Dallas onto the law-abiding residents,” he said. “There are enough programs to help those who want to be helped. In Dallas, homelessness is a choice.”

In Dallas, the City has reported that panhandlers can earn up to $300 per day, deterring many individuals thought to be homeless by passersby from seeking traditional employment.

Panhandling, in particular, became a recent subject of controversy in Dallas when the city council passed an ordinance that prohibits people from “standing and walking on medians six feet or less in width.” Those who violate the prohibition can be fined up to $500, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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Betsy Whitfill
Betsy Whitfill
3 months ago

Move faster, Dallas. Eliminate street living, begging and vagrancy now.