Vicksburg’s panhandlers

They’re alternately called panhandlers, bums, mentally ill, or homeless, and they inhabit most if not all of our larger cities. They also sit on the benches alongside Vicksburg’s downtown streets, sometimes singly, sometimes in groups. Some have been known to the local shopowners for years, some just appear from nowhere. Some have been known walk the streets intoxicated and belligerent, others merely sit and stare at passersby, or lie quietly sleeping. But at some point, each will stop a passing stranger or shopowner or one of the many residents of the downtown apartments and ask for a handout. When approached, many people are intimidated or fearful, while others choose¬†nonrecognition. Some contribute, others don’t. For your discussion are the following questions: Should we try to change the behaviour of these people? Are they negatively affecting the quality of life in downtown Vicksburg? Are they affecting trade? Should ordinances or laws be enforced or crafted to prevent such activity? Should churches and like organizations such as the Salvation Army be more actively involved in trying to better the lives of these individuals? Many more questions come to mind – comment as you like.

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Published in: on August 17, 2008 at 10:34 am  Comments (14)  

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  1. What can be done if they do not want help or to better their life.
    I see them everyday because I go home that way. At times I have seen one sleeping on the sidewalk. Very sad.
    I am not sure what can be done about it. Anyone know. It can be a deterrent for downtown shopping. but mostly they hang out around Freds..

  2. A shelter is needed.

    River City has tough rules and doesn’t work for most of the homeless we see.

    With a shelter the street people can stay clean, have to be sober to check in and their belonging are safe.

    Why a town our size doesn’t have one is beyond me.

  3. For 25 years I worked in public assistance agencies in Vicksburg before I retired and this situation baffled and perplexed me all that time. Sadly this is a very old and complex problem that has not been solved satisfactorily here or anywhere else. Intervention can be done on unwanted homeless children and they can be put into protective custody, foster care, etc. The only intervention for adult unwanted “street” people is possible only if and when they break a law or ordinance and then they are hauled off to jail, which is not where they can get the help they really need,and soon they are back on the streets again. Many of the people seen in downtown Vicksburg are not truly homeless per se as they often stay at homes of relatives or friends at night and hang out downtown during the day. They are often local residents loitering around in a mental illness fog or an alcohol or drug related stupor and choose to do as they please. They do not like advice or to be in adult day care or structured settings like the Salvation Army, River City Rescue, or Warren-Yazoo Mental Health with rules and regulations they would have to conform to and follow to stay there or to get a meal or services. Many of these people get disability checks, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc., which are handled and controlled by a “Payee”, who then doles out a pittance of an allowance to them and then lets them wander the streets or hangout downtown. True, there are limited resources in Vicksburg for people of this type, but these people usually choose NOT to use or go to these places for services and “help” and their payees often could care less. It is the proverbial quandry of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. I think local churches and organizations do what they can for them but have no real solution and sadly realize this is an ongoing social problem they just have to accept and live with and treat with “Band Aids” from time to time.

  4. A number of comments related to local panhandlers were placed under the post “Vicksburg is a safe place to live?” See that post if you are interested.

  5. Please look at this from a business owners point of view. Does anyone expect to see a homeless beggar rolling though a new shopping center in Madison? It is bad for business, period. Vicksburg depends on outside money, and every time a bum ‘works’ one of the visitors that we are lucky to have we risk loosing there future business. If Madison can limit, or erase, the problem, so can we, why don’t we ask them how? Lets just hope the answer isn’t “We buss them to Vicksburg”

  6. Here in lies another “bruise” on Vicksburg. I know a little old lady, living on a fixed stipend of income called Social Security. The home she shared with her husband of 49+ years has been condemned by the City of Vicksburg. Since her husband’s death, her health has detiorated, and so has the home. Since this home was co-owned by her late-husbands’ sister and her late-husband, she cannot aquire a loan to make repairs, nor can she seek assistance from an organization like World Changers, etc. Now the city has condemned her home, served her with eviction papers, and she has nowhere to go. This is why Vicksburg has seen an increase in “homeless” activity and why it will continue to see this increase. When your city government is continuing to “condemn” housing of the elderly residents in the area without providing assistance in finding housing that they can afford on their limited income, you will continue to see this forever. It is absolutely amazing that the elderly in this community are being put out of their homes, homes that they paid taxes on, and home where they raised families, but once they are unable to continue to invest in upkeep, instead of our community leaders finding ways to assist, they look for the easy way around by condemning and taking whatever is left, as payment for destruction costs. It is amazing that the younger adults, people capable of working, are provided with public assistance and public housing. Why is this assistance not also afforded to the elderly of our community?

  7. The city does not “evict” people from their houses. I wonder if the house that city condemned burned down and something awful happened to that “little old lady” would you blame the city as well for not bringing the dangers in the house to her attention?

  8. The Vicksburg Food Pantry (501.3c) needs your help. They have a 300% increase in the number of people needing food right now. This is a Vicksburg situation needing assistance for Vicksburg people. The majority of these folks are families.

  9. Wilisa, thanks for the “heads up” on the help needed by the Vicksburg Food Pantry. I will make a donation soon.

    It is an outrage to me that our government is wasting TEN BILLION DOLLARS a month on the war in Iraq and people here and all over America need help with groceries and other unmet needs. $18,000,000 spent to develop a zip code system for Baghdad! After 5 years billions have been poured into that quagmire, with the largest U.S. Embassy building in the world under construction there, and still only half of Baghdad has electricity and running water while our own U.S. infrastructure of bridges, highways, etc. continues to deteriorate. Charity should begin at home I think and our government should get its priorities straightened out.

  10. Jon, I agree with most of your comments. The war should be terminated ASAP. However, I am not for giving handouts to people here or anywhere else in the world. Foreign aid has been a disaster, causing the peoples of entire countries to grow dependent on outside help. The same can be said of our giveaway programs. We need to ween our population off welfare and force them to start thinking and doing for themselves. Else, the future of the USA is even bleaker than it appears now.

  11. I agree with Malcolm. I would much prefer to see the elderly get benefits and or help than the young people who can get out and WORK!!

  12. Jon Penn, regarding your comments on the cost of the War versus social programs and getting our priorities straight…

    Yes the War in Iraq is costly. When compared to the cost of current social programs in America is it minuscule. This current years Federal Budget for Social programs is 60.62%. That is 12 times more expensive than the cost of the War in Iraq.

    Jon, at what point do we say we are spending enough on social programs? Already over half of the tax dollars you and I pay go to feed, shelter and clothe people who, for whatever reason, do not feed, shelter and clothe themselves.

    Personally I am all for spending 5% of the Federal Budget for the War on Terror. I would love to have that 60.62% of the Federal Budget for the War on Poverty (and it’s offshoots) be reduced. People might actually have to take responsibility for their lives.

    You increase social spending all you want Jon. It will help to create even more Americans who don’t fend for themselves…while our enemies watch us collapse from within.

  13. I will pray for the mother of 5 children I met that has no job – no formal eduacation – who’s husband left her for the woman he was having and affair with and is not paying support for his children.

    I will also pray for the man who lost his hand, has a huge boil on his neck, and that day had several of his teeth removed.

    I will also pray for the woman who is living in the woods in a tent.

    I will pray for the others in need and for you all too.

    I also pray for than thank Jon Pen and the other who help. It’s not about our needs and how we look to others. Be thankful for what we have.

  14. I agree with Malcolm. Hes the man.


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