Why giving cash to panhandlers is not a good idea

Next to U.S 35 in downtown Dayton, we watched as a half dozen panhandlers worked different corners. At times, it appeared as though they worked in shifts.

"Here every day," said Jay Scott. "Basically, it's a job to get out here. I hope to come up with $40."

WHIO REPORTS: An in-depth look at panhandling in Dayton

Scott said he has been off drugs and alcohol for years but he needs money for food and medication. However, he said that approximately 70% of the panhandlers in Dayton are taking money from drivers to buy drugs.

We also met a panhandler named Keith, who did not share his last name.

"I started drinking when I was a kid, and went from one thing to another," said Keith.

He told us that he is panhandling four or five days a week for one reason.

"To get money to feed the addiction," Keith said. "The dope boy making all that money."

Keith said his life is focused on his next hit of Fentanyl and he admits that what he is doing is taking advantage of kindhearted strangers in our community.

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"Peoples’ generosity has also been killing me too," Keith said. "If I didn't get that I'd have to commit worse crimes to feed my addiction."

Then we came across David Slife who said he makes $70 to $80 dollars a day, tax-free.

"I was out here all day every day supporting a drug habit," said Slife. " Makes you fee bad, you kind of taking advantage of people."

He claimed to have been drug-free for three years but still panhandles because it is easy, legal and the police leave him alone.

We conducted a Facebook and Twitter poll to see how many people give to panhandlers. Here are the results:

Do you give money to the panhandlers in Dayton?

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>>The problem with panhandling Monday on News Center 7:

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One source within the city of Dayton said they estimate that 80 percent of panhandles use the money they collect to buy drugs.

"We have absolutely no data one way or the other to say what it is," said Andrea Hoff, of the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Board. Hoff said there is no way to know where the money is really going so she has some advice for those people who are inclined to give.

"It is our recommendation that they don't give cash to those panhandling," said Hoff. "The last thing we want to do is continue to reinforce a habit by giving means to getting access to drugs."

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Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said it is his opinion that the city of Dayton should not allow panhandling.

"I'll tell you this. We run Harrison Township and they don't panhandle in Harrison Township because we don't allow it," said Sheriff Plummer. Other communities in the Miami Valley do not allow panhandling either.

One panhandler told us that an officer in the southern suburbs even offered him a ride to downtown Dayton.

David Slife said, now that panhandling is legal in Dayton, more and more people are coming here to do just that.

"Here in Dayton, it's gotten out of control. Everywhere you go you see someone holding a sign," Slife said.

We tried several times to talk with city of Dayton leaders about the panhandling issue. A spokesperson for Dayton Police said the department would not do interviews on the subject and referred us to the prosecutor's office. We left a message there and no one returned our call. We also reached out to Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and again, we received no response.