Working to Curb Panhandling

Panhandlers are people in crisis. While their situations may not always reflect what’s written on those tattered cardboard signs, they often struggle with the same challenges as the homeless.

Even though resources are available for them, getting panhandlers off the streets isn’t easy. Many panhandlers have reliable sources of regular income from strangers, giving them little incentive to change.

Please reconsider giving your spare change to panhandlers. Instead, support a nonprofit that works directly with individuals on the streets. Or offer a panhandler items for basic survival, such as food, water, hygiene products and even bus tokens.

photo of panhandler holding a sign

Common Questions About Panhandling

We’ve answered four common questions about panhandling. If you have additional questions, you’re encouraged to send us a message.

What is panhandling?

Panhandling is the act of asking a stranger in a public space for money (or something of value) for personal use. It's sometimes called begging or soliciting. Panhandling can be passive (holding a sign on a street corner) or aggressive (touching or blocking the path of the person being solicited).

Is panhandling illegal?

Panhandling is legal in Indiana. But it can lead to crimes against the panhandler and the general public. These crimes include harassment, disorderly conduct and assault

Are panhandlers homeless?

Should I give panhandlers money?

We recommend you don't give money to panhandlers. (Food, water and toiletries are okay!)

Instead of giving them your spare change, consider donating to one of these local nonprofits that support them. 

An Advocate on the Streets

We’re fortunate to have an Evansville Police Department officer who’s dedicated to our homeless and panhandling populations. He’s Sergeant Joshua Brewer.

As EPD’s homeless liaison officer, Josh works to build relationships with local panhandlers and connects them to community services they need. These services include emergency shelter, health care, substance abuse treatment and more.

In 2019, Josh conducted a survey to gain better insight into the daily lives of local panhandlers. Details of that survey are below. Josh plans on conducting another survey in 2023. 

Photo of Joshua Brewer, EPD homeless liaison officer

2019 Panhandling Survey

Findings from the 2019 panhandling survey came from 28 of the 74 local panhandlers identified by Sgt. Brewer, the Evansville Police Department’s homeless liaison officer. That group included 22 males and 6 females. Ages ranged from 25 to over 65 years old, but 71% were between 45-64. All were Caucasian.


Monthly average collected from panhandling


Daily range collected from panhandling


Daily range collected from panhandling during the holiday season


Reported being homeless


Use panhandling money for survival


Spend panhandling money on food


Spend panhandling money on alcohol, narcotics or illegal activities


Currently or in the past have abused drugs or alcohol


Struggle with a mental health disorder


Are veterans