SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Panhandling is illegal in Shreveport, yet many still do it every single day and local advocates say the practice is harming the homeless community and those who are truly in need.
“If you’re on Youree Drive, you are going to see that bearded man with his dog. Everybody knows,” says Providence House Executive Director Verni Howard.
“Some can be very crafty,” says Shreveport Police Department Cpl. Marcus Hines. Besides being illegal, Hines says some who claim to be homeless actually are not and are deceiving you out of cold hard cash. “Upon arrest, they’ve been found to have thousands of dollars on them, surely as a result of those solicitations.”
That feeds into a perception that does harm to those who truly need help, says Howard. “It impacts those persons who really have a need, it impacts how people perceive homelessness.”
Those who are in fact homeless say they would prefer the help over a handout any day. People like Benny Brown, a single father of three girls, who was homeless for over a year.
“It was rough. You never know if you will have enough money for a hotel or who you can stay with,” says Brown.
The help Brown received came from the Providence House, a local organization that helps homeless families get back on their feet.
“People are friendly and they help you out. Everything I got on these people gave me,” says Brown.
Now, Brown is working on getting his GED, taking his life from the streets to the classroom, hoping to never be homeless again.
“If you give them fish for a day, that’s great, but if you teach them how to fish, then you’ve really resolved the whole problem,” says Howard.
If you would like to make a donation or assist the Providence House in their effort to help homeless families, visit their website here or contact them at 318-221-7887.