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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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