Please do not give panhandlers money, food, material goods in general, or even the time of day. Instead, give money to shelters and other places that will help said people deal with addictions and issues they have, and help them get hooked up on the way to better things. Many of the panhandlers you see, especially in Squirrel Hill, are not poor people who are down on their luck. They are either mentally ill in need of treatment or they are tricksters who panhandle in order to avoid doing anything of value. I have followed, out of curiosity, several of them around and have seen many of them with large wads of cash and others buying a beer when they're done for the evening. Shelters are a good thing -- I once volunteered in one, and they can use your money in really good ways. Even the few actually needy bums who don't need large amounts of psychological help will be better served by a shelter then by your help. If they ask for money, tell them to go to said shelters. If you know they're a trickster, tell them to sod off, and be rude. Tricksters make money because you let them, and because they are not sufficiently societally pressured on the nature of their work. They abuse generosity, and channel it (not an infinite supply, nor the tied resources) to useless ends. Do not be skimpy with sympathy for the real homeless, and please do support your local shelter in any way you can -- there are people in real need. However, channel your help through the institution, and not ineffectively into the hands of someone who is just taking the system for a ride. When you see the same bum coming back again and again to your neighbourhood, it's a clear sign that something very wrong is going on. These are the enemy of the poor and the generous. Treat them that way.