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Janson Michael Steffan, Fargo, Published August 07 2012

Panhandlers need not be coddled

I understand that there is a problem with poverty and homelessness. We’ve all known that since Reagan threw them out on the streets back in the ’80s. Mental health patients were one of the biggest groups affected.

However, I will not apologize for the truth: No one needs to be homeless.

There are so many programs in the Fargo-Moorhead area to help you get back on your feet: Churches United for the Homeless, Homeless Health Care, the food bank, shelters, Dorothy Day House, EBT (food stamps) cash assistance, housing, YWCA, Job Services, other government programs, etc.

I know this from personal experience. About eight years ago, I was down and out, mental health issues hammering me down. No place to go, no place to live, no job. Panhandling was not an option. Get up and make things happen. Don’t tell me that panhandling is a source of income and you’ll be “without a job.” You are putting yourself in harm’s way by standing near busy roads, as well as endangering the lives of drivers and other pedestrians.

Pedestrians and drivers: Do not give these people money. Give them food, directions to the homeless shelter and information about the assistance programs.