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Dallas Panhandling Continues Unabated

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Non-specific person panhandling. | Image from Getty Images

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Panhandling in Dallas appears to continue unabated, despite a recent City initiative to discourage the practice.

In the city of Dallas, panhandling is against the law and is a Class C misdemeanor.

Jennifer Brown, the public information manager for the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS), told The Dallas Express, “The issue of panhandling, specifically illegal solicitation in the roadway, is being handled by the Panhandling Deflection Program, which is an inter-departmental effort.” 

Dallas implemented the pilot program last year in an attempt to combat panhandling by using a database to connect panhandlers to social services. The database permits follow-up assistance and monitoring of repeat offenders.

Since the Panhandling Deflection Program’s launch last November, the City has reported limited results. Out of 80 field reports submitted after city officials responded to panhandling calls, only five people have successfully been assisted.

Three individuals were placed in homes, one accepted a ride to a mental healthcare facility, and another went to a homeless and vagrant shelter.

Panhandlers are often vagrants, people who choose to live on the streets and refuse help. These individuals prefer being homeless and decline services that are a path to stability.

One man, Alvin Jackson Renfro, told The Dallas Morning News he and his father panhandle to get enough money to allegedly spend a few nights per week in a motel.

Renfro claimed that the City has not approached him recently. He said he knows what services are available but is unsure whether he would accept assistance, adding that he does not like to stay in shelters.

As reported by The Dallas Express, the 2022 Point-in-Time Homeless Count from the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) showed that nearly 4,000 individuals experience homelessness on any given night.

Approximately 3,996 people were discovered to be homeless or vagrants in Dallas County in 2022, according to a fact sheet from MDHA. Of that total, 1,324 are believed to be vagrants or “unsheltered,” which means they do not seek lodging in shelters and instead live on the streets.

Christine Crossley, the director of OHS, said that although some people are not interested in receiving help, there has been a reduction in panhandling since the start of the program.

“We’ve seen enough success to justify that we can move forward and should move forward,” she added.

Currently, 20% of panhandlers in Dallas are homeless, according to the City, per The Dallas Morning News. In 2018, the City estimated that “[b]etween 70-80% of the individuals engaged by street outreach are considered homeless.” However, CEO Wayne Walker of OurCalling, a nonprofit for homeless and vagrant people, estimates that 70-80% of panhandlers are still homeless today.

Billy Ray, a man who stations his wheelchair on street corners asking for money, knows the City is offering help but is unwilling to accept assistance.

“They say you can go to the shelter, and they’re giving out apartments and all kinds of stuff,” he said. “They’re just trying to get us out of here.”

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Jan Clayton
Jan Clayton
1 month ago

MOST are mentally ill and are self medicating. I tell several where they can go to get all kinds of help, but all say the same thing, ” I am not following their rules.” It is very sad. Everyone needs to stop giving them money. I dish out 5,10 & 20 dollar bills. I have stopped. I know first hand because I have a close relative out there. My family has tried to help him for 20 years. He will not accept the help.Breaks my heart. If they have no $$$ they will hopefully get the help they need.

George
George
Reply to  Jan Clayton
1 month ago

I agree with your comment. Working in the mental health field for over 20 years it is not uncommon for those panhandling, or living homeless do NOT want any help. They’d rather self-medicate and refuse to get help. It is an endless cycle, because a lot of abusers like this know how to game the system, for secondary gain. In other words, shelter and food. After receiving shelter and food, they will go back out onto the streets using drugs and alcohol. I see this everyday. Let me be clear…the majority do NOT want help. They rather continue using drugs and alcohol. Those with mental issues are generally taken care-of through group homes. They get the help needed. The vast majority on the streets you see panhandling are drug/alcohol users. One way to help these people get help is to NOT give them money. Also, a lot of the female homeless are into prostitution.

Last edited 1 month ago by George
Terry Jordan
Terry Jordan
1 month ago

I will give these people some food if I happen to have any but never money. We all know what they do with money. I feel sorry for them but I can’t save the world so food (or maybe clothing) is where I draw the line.

caseyp
caseyp
1 month ago

It’s sad that American politicians send trillions of dollars overseas every year to help other countries but won’t spend any here to help the homeless who want help.

Monte Mcdearmon
Monte Mcdearmon
Reply to  caseyp
1 month ago

WELL SAID

Txn4real
Txn4real
Reply to  caseyp
1 month ago
  • You must not have read the article. There is a LOT of help available. MOST of these people do not WANT help. They like their lifestyle and their “independence” – although they are in fact dependent on the generosity of everyone else. Mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse are most of the causes. The cannot help those who do not want help, no matter how much money you throw at it.
R D
R D
1 month ago

I agree that most are mentally Ill and most already received SSI, a government check and they have really no need to panhandle but they are mentally ill

Eric
Eric
1 month ago

Make it illegal to give panhandlers money. If people want to give -they can support a shelter. That would curb the problem as law abiding citizens would stop giving money to panhandlers who are breaking the law by asking on street corners.
The reason most panhandlers are where they are at is because of ‘pride’ and you can see in their refusal to take help and get their life on track – is pride as well.

Djea3
Djea3
Reply to  Eric
1 month ago

You must be young, as you do not get it at all.
Churches and other non profit outreach programs (other than food bank programs) are about MONEY, HUGE MONEY. There are federal, state and local funds available (especially if the aid is used to house veterans!
NEVER give MONEY to any of these groups. Donate used items to their second hand stores, donate your TIME to them.
Remember that NON-PROFIT never means not profitable, it means that all income goes to wages.
Btw, most people living on the streets have recently lost jobs and living quarters and are WORKING HARD to return to normalcy, or they are self-medicating and drug and alcohol users who do not care to self-support and to get better.

Joe S
Joe S
1 month ago

Any good will and sympathy at this point are gone. The amount of trash they leave everywhere and packages they steal in my neighborhood has gotten out of control. I don’t agree with bussing undocumented to DC, but budding the homeless somewhere…. You could convince me.

Kap Pac
Kap Pac
Reply to  Joe S
1 month ago

Undocumented and homeless are two different things. Illegals should be deported, all of them.

caseyp
caseyp
Reply to  Kap Pac
1 month ago

The majority of illegals are treated better than our homeless. The millions of illegals who have crossed the broder since Biden moved into the White House get free housing, free cell phones, free healthcare, food stamps, Medicaid, and cash for other incidentals. It’s pathetic.

Johnny Ray
Johnny Ray
1 month ago

People who give them money are the problem! They would not sit out in the hot Texas sun all day if it weren’t for you bleeding hearts who think you are doing something good when you are the reason they keep coming back. STOP giving them money. You are supporting their drug & alcohol addiction. Period.

William Platt
William Platt
1 month ago

What this article does not address, are the numerous scam artists that are part of the problem.

Lee
Lee
Reply to  William Platt
1 month ago

I have always refused to hand over my hard earned money. I have offered them the opportunity to come to my home to do yardwork, household cleaning chores etc. I have never had even one person get in the car to take me up on my offer, some of the women have offered me sex acts for cash, some of the people have flat out told me they make more money begging on the streets than they would make working AND it’s tax free. Maybe we need to have the IRS pick them up and audit their tax returns, that’s how they got Al Capone. I’m not in favor of incarcerating ALL the vagrants, but to some it would be a life changing oportunity. 6 months in prison will get your attention and perhaps change your habits and accept the help that is available to them. If it is against the law for men to pick up a prostitute, then a law could be passed for aiding the panhandlers, call it public safety for motorists and traffic delays. When the well runs dry you will seek water elsewhere. Stop enabling these people.

Sandy M
Sandy M
1 month ago

There are many people who panhandle for a living. They don’t report the income since it’s cash. I’ve seen them wearing coats that I can’t afford. If they have a car they park it and then walk to their corner. Those are the ones to target. There’s one man who goes to LBJ Freeway and Marsh Lane. He’s a convicted sex offender and he is known to get violent.

Bobby
Bobby
1 month ago

We help homeless veterans find their own free rvs please check out our Facebook page
Operation Texas strong we are a non profit in texas

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