Why Here?

One of the panhandlers on 15-501 recently returned to our area following 12 month sabatical. He spent the time away in a federal prison in South Carolina for cashing a few bad checks and for resisting arrest. I asked him, "What was it like down there in prison?" He said, "It was really easier than livin' out here. I got medical treatment and they fixed one of my teeth and it wasn't so cold."

I have not asked him why he returned to our area but I am curious about it. What is so attractive about homelessness and panhandling in our community? What would motivate a person to travel back here to live in the woods and beg for money on the highway? I wonder if it is a positive or negative reflection on our community that this homeless man and so many others in similar circumstances want to make this place their home.

Michael B. Owen



At least one of the 54W panhandlers grew up here.

Yes, I, too, have met some native panhandlers. I met one man who claims to be a second generation panhandler in Chapel Hill. He said his father used to hustle money on Franklin Street. He sounded almost proud of the family tradition that he was maintaining. Very strange way of being in the world.Perhaps, our community has always been a welcoming place for the entrepreneurial homeless population. 


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