How People Respond To A Homeless Person Asking For Money
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When we encounter a homeless person or panhandler, most people will have some spare change or petty cash at the ready to offer them.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as willing to give them even as little as a penny.

In some cases, it might be a safety issue, as they might not carry loose change in their pockets, and don't feel comfortable taking out their wallets.

Then too, in this day and age, fewer and fewer people even carry cash around with them any more.

Whether their reasons are justified or not, many people have a response at the ready should they be approached by a homeless person asking for money.


Redditor Lovingnature412 was curious to hear the various responses, affirmative or negative, people used when being asked for money, leading them to ask:
"How do you usually respond to a homeless person asking you for money?"

No Response Necessary

"Okay so my car is a rusty old beater with the bumpers duck taped on."

"The other day there was a man pan handling where I was stopped at a red light and he asked all the cars for cash and when he got to mine I didn’t even have to say anything."

"He put his hands up, laughed and walked past me. "

"So yeah."- West_Concern_1165

We're Not So Different, You And I...

“I’m one missed pay check from asking you the same thing”- livelaughloaft

Depends On The Location...

"'No, sorry'."

"Literally never had a response back but feel like it's better to acknowledge they spoke to me?"

"Just seems like politeness I guess."

"I'm in Liverpool, UK."

"It was honestly REALLY noticeable the difference between homeless people here, I presume usually people who struggle accessing benefits for some reason or substance addicts, and the cities I've been to in the US, seemingly profoundly mentally unwell and intimidating."

"In my whole life in the UK a homeless person has never said more to me than 'got any spare change?'"

"So I feel comfortable meeting their gaze and saying 'no sorry', or occasionally giving them change."

"But in the US I very quickly learned to look straight ahead and say nothing."

"Especially in Philadelphia, holy sh*t."- Saxon2060

Short And Simple

"I usually just say 'no, sorry'."

"If I give money to everyone who asks me, I'm going to be homeless too."- AngryHippo3920

Choose Your Words Carefully

"I usually say 'sorry dude', but when I said that to a guy in San Francisco he started yelling at us about not needing our apology."

" At that point I just said "sorry, I'm Canadian!" while running away."

"Just for clarity, I hate these jokes. But even moreso that I did it unironically."- fubes2000

Silence Is Golden

"I smile sheepishly while shaking my head and walking past."- LucyVialli

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Being Cashless

"'I don't carry cash', which is true, because I don't carry cash, my phone is encrypted and biometrically locked, and the cards I carry are easily cancelled and replaced."

"Gotta make it so if you get mugged you don't have to do much after handing it all over."- frygod

Alternatives To Giving Cash

"I live downtown in a major city."

"I get asked for money about 5x/day."

"I just smile and keep walking."

"I regularly buy water and food for the ones that sleep near my apartment that I see repeatedly."- knovit

Sorry, WHAT?!?!

"I'm pretty sure a homeless guy tried robbing me."

"He came up to me and held up a knife to my face telling me he was selling it for $20."

"Me not acknowledging the fact this shady guy was holding a knife to my face in the middle of the night just say 'I don't carry cash' and continued walking."

" It was only after the fact I realized that the guy was probably actually trying to rob me."- Shadow948

Being asked for money is simply an uncomfortable situation, not to mention a reminder of one's relative privilege.

If you don't have anything to give, perhaps the best thing to do is imagine if the situation was reversed, and what you would want to hear.