Begging & Panhandling

Subsistence strategies such as begging and panhandling (asking for money, food or other items) are informal economic activities commonly associated with homelessness, but it is important to note that not all who beg or panhandle are homeless, and not all people experiencing homelessness beg or panhandle. Regardless of their housing situation, people who engage in such activities usually do so as a result of real difficulties in participating in the labour market, due to their poverty, hunger, compromized health, disability, mental health challenges and other barriers to employment.1

Panhandling, while highly controversial, can allow people to earn income on a day-to-day basis so that they can meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, hygiene products and/or entertainment. In recent years, this practice has become increasingly criminalized, particularly in North America and Europe. Begging has the dual but often counterintuitive effect of rendering homelessness more visible while heightening social exclusion as panhandlers are often ignored, abused, or harassed.

In their own words: Gina | Philadelphia, USA

Learn more about begging & panhandling in:

Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States, Bangladesh, Malaysia