Homeless by Accident or Beggar by Design?

Good day True Believers!

So I want to bring a topic to the world that I usually reserve for ranting in the car to the windshield. (Yes, I talk to myself in the car, and yes I’m ok with it).

It’s the topic of the Homeless. More accurately, the homeless in Halifax, and the observations I’ve made. This is in no way a rant/attack/hate on the homeless in general.

That being said, please enter the hazy spectacle that is my brain………

So our fine city of Halifax. As of 2011 the population of Halifax was 390,096 and the urban area had a population of 297,943. In the city of Halifax, the 2 most popular places for homeless to hang out and ask for money is Spring Garden Rd and the Windsor Street Exchange. Let’s look at SGR first shall we?

A veritable Hub of activity, SGR seems to never sleep. At any given moment the street is full of people, and also has its share of panhandlers. So with that, let’s conduct a little math equation. Let’s say for argument’s sake, that each day from 9-5 approximately 10,000 people frequent the street. This is not unreasonable, and likely undershooting based on the fact that 20,000 people work in the downtown core, and likely many more visits from surrounding areas. So lets also hypothesize that 10% of these 10,000 feel the overwhelming urge to give a panhandler say 25 cents. Again likely undershooting on the 10%, but I’ll play fair. So there are 1000 people that pony up .25. So this makes a total of 250.00. If there are 3 panhandlers on the street sharing that 250.00 that day, then they each make 83.00. “Working” 9-5 nets them a cool 10.41 per hour. Minimum wage for NS is 10.30/hr.

See what I’m getting at? The Exchange is not a lot different. And let’s keep in mind, that I did low ball it a bit.

My next observation is a lot of these people (especially at the WSE) don’t look homeless, or malnourished. Nor do the dogs they bring for the sympathy money.

The Following Shelters operate in Halifax

Alcare Place (Transition – Men recovering from addictions)
Alice Housing (Second and third-stage housing – abused women)
Adsum House (Adsum for Women and Children offers Emergency Shelter for Women and Children, also Adsum Court and Adsum Centre providing affordable and supportive housing)
Barry House SLSNS
Bryony House (Abused Women)
Marguerite Centre (Addiction Recovery-Women)
Metro Turning Point
Shelter for Males (16+ experiencing homelessness)
Nehiley House SLSNS Halfway house for women released from prison
Phoenix Youth Shelter (Youth)
Salvation Army (Men)
Sir Sandford Fleming House SLSNS Halfway House for men released from prison

A lot, if not most of these, provide shelter, counselling, and Rehabilitation.

It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that some, if not a lot, of these people choose homelessness to the alternatives. Why work when you can hang out and make the same money?

Again, I don’t think this applies to all, but I have to wonder. I once had a guy ask for change as I was coming out of a bar. I offered him 20 cents (all I had) and he refused! He refused! I know it wasn’t a lot, but still. Money is money. This type of exchange makes you wonder. How much better is he doing than what he lets on, if 20 cents isn’t worth taking?

So what Am I getting at, besides my rant? What truly bugs me about this? Well, I dislike the fact that people that work hard for their money, give it away to those who won’t. So the solution I present is a simple one. Want to help these people? Keep your money in your pocket. Each time you think of giving money, put it aside. Once you have 20, 50 or 100 dollars, and want to make a REAL difference, give to one of the charities above, or one in your local area. If we drop change in a beggar’s hand without donating to a charity, we’re acting to relieve our guilt rather than an underlying crisis of poverty.

See? Rant AND A PSA all in one 🙂

Best wishes my friends, and enjoy your Holidays.


About Anthony Arsenault

I was born on a cold October day in 1975. My love for words became apparent to my family at a young age, when I took to reading, and always had to have a book. This love for books continued on, and soon I was putting my own words to paper. I was always a fan of creative writing, and often impressed my grade school teachers with my fantastic stories. At the age of 15, I wrote a poem called "Abused" for a grade 9 poetry assignment. The power of the poem brought the administration of the school to class room with a barrage of questions. Four years later I entered a contest sponsored by the Canadian Chamber of Contemporary Poetry. Of thousands of contestants, i was in the top 200, and had my poem "Bob" published in their anthology “Scaling the Face of Reason". This was my first true accomplishment, and my first published work. Since then I have been writing, and Have had a few articles and a poem entitled " A Letter to my Unborn Child" published by Parents for Parents Magazine. I am still writing, and recently published my first e-book, The Common Man's Guide to Women as Told by the Common Man, and a book of poetry called "Words Flow Eternal"
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2 Responses to Homeless by Accident or Beggar by Design?

  1. Joe says:

    FYI – your math is wrong! 1% of 10000 is actually 100!

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