Buddy, can you spare a dime? Homelessness, panhandling, and the public

Barrett A. Lee, Chad R. Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The authors use data from two national surveys to shed light on panhandling among homeless people and the public's responses to it. A comparison of homeless panhandlers and nonpanhandlers shows the former group to be more isolated, troubled, and disadvantaged than the latter. Although only a minority of all homeless say that they panhandle, a majority of domiciled individuals report being panhandled, and most give at least occasionally. Such encounters have mixed but limited effects on the public's attitudes and behaviors. Overall, results challenge the notion that panhandling constitutes an especially threatening feature of urban life. The wisdom of anti-panhandling ordinances is discussed in light of this conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-324
Number of pages26
JournalUrban Affairs Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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