Team responses: Do you give cash to the homeless in the US?
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1
Do you give cash to the homeless in the US? In 1-3 sentences, explain your answer to question 1
2
NoI believe(d) that there was a greater selection bias in the sample of homeless people towards financial misuse.
3
Most of the timeIf I have money and someone nearby needs it, I feel obliged to share. They are likely to spend it as wisely as I would (not very wisely, to be honest)
4
OccasionallyI prefer to give food, which I know goes against everything GD stands for. Part of my hesitation about providing cash -- or food -- is that I don't want to make the judgement of who is deserving.
5
OccasionallyUsually no. Mainly becuase it's the same people asking and they have the same story everytime that never changes ($ for the bus, $ for gas b/c their car is broken down, crying that stops the minute after you pass them). I have become a skeptic. With that said, there was this one time a few years back that I gave someone $20 (he looked like he had been in a fight) and talked to him for 10 min and it ended with me giving him a hug and him crying and thanking me for beliving in him. His name was Cherokee and I will never forgot him.
6
OccasionallySometimes I am worried about being repeatedly asked on my regular commute. Sometimes I am in a hurry and so do not stop. I also am unclear on the mental health of many people, and so am not sure if I'm helping or not. In addition, I'd rather give the bulk of my money to the extreme poor abroad who have even fewer resources than the extreme poor in the US-- which is what I currently do today.
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Most of the timeI think the money is likely to be of more use to them than it is to me.
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NoI think it could be given more effectively elsewhere, eg. Kenya
9
NoI think that giving money to poor people overseas is probably much more cost effective (in other words, it does more to lift people out of poverty per dollar). I can see some intrisict value to giving money to needy people in front of you who ask for it, but I am also very concerned about the well-being of people I don't see every day. I agree with Chris Blattman that someone should study the impacts of cash transfers to the homeless in the States.
10
NoI used to give cash to the homeless, but now that I have option to give directly to extreme int'l poor, I do that instead.
11
Occasionally I think the case for giving to the homeless in the US is more complicated because there's more of a selection effect working in why someone is homeless in the US v. why someone is very poor in rural Kenya. The higher proportion of substance abuse and mental illness among homeless people in the US seems like it might make cash a worse bet, though I'd mostly like to see the evidence because it might still be one of the best bets we have.
12
OccasionallyI don't feel confident giving directly to the poor in the US without more evidence akin to what we have in most of the developing world, given the huge differences in culture and poverty. But, I give from time to time to make sure that saying "no" too many times doesn't harden my basic compassion for people who are suffering, regardless of why, or of what impact my money will have.
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