Hey Ryan! I came across your article and was pleasantly intrigued, because I have a different opinion on the topic. I have previously volunteered for homeless shelters, and started initiatives with good friends to give care packages to the homeless citizens of my community. I’ve also researched this extensively because my graduate studies and interests are in urban planning and housing for all. My family has come close to losing everything and being homeless ourselves. I completely agree with you that I do not wish homelessness on anyone, and that every homeless citizen deserves respect and love. Because quite honestly, they have had to face systemic oppressions and lack of support when they needed it the most, and “they” could easily be any one of us someday. However, I will respectfully disagree with the act of giving homeless people money directly, because it comes from an inherent selfishness from ourselves and it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. You may have heard of the proverb, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. There are amazing homeless shelters, non-profits and government programs who are tirelessly working on listening and helping homeless people feel a sense of belonging and place in our communities. But do you know why they’re not as successful at eradicating all homelessness? Because there isn’t enough money to help them provide the *actual* resources they need, because federal governments do not deem them important enough. So what I personally do (and hope to do more of in the future) is to give to these organizations that are teaching people how to proverbially fish, how to find hope and actually feel dignity and respect like they deserve, not to give them a fish to ease my own guilty consciousness. By doing so, I would actually be trapping them on the streets forever, that’s called being nice to their face and then stabbing them in the back. By just giving money and going on our way, we are just as bad as people who don’t, because we are not listening to them. A few dollars does go a long way, but it does not get them out of the place that they are in. Listening to them, looking them in the eye, spending time to get to know them even for an afternoon (like Keanu Reeves) or for a few minutes, or helping out these organizations and programs has a much longer and more selfless impact than anything else. Just my two cents. Thank you for writing the article! :)

Masters in Planning student at the University of Toronto, a lifelong lover of birds, and (critically?) bumbling my way through life