“Taking someone off the streets, putting a roof over his head and a cup of soup in his stomach will not change the status of a homeless person. To no longer be homeless, a person must think of home as a matter of community, that home is about belonging, connectedness, and shared memory and that home involves relationships of trust.”
-Steven Bouma-Predinger and Brian J. Walsh, Beyond Homelessness—Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement.
Here at Mobile Loaves & Fishes we believe that as an organization—and as a society—that we must go beyond the provision of adequate housing and strive to develop a community based on the principals of love, respect, abundance, and acceptance.
We also know that there are misconceptions and prejudice out there regarding the men, women, and children ravaged by homeless that can be challenging to overcome. We want to put a face on homelessness by setting the record straight with studies, statistics, and additional resources.
Panhandling – Why panhandling? Is it really profitable? Or is there something going on in our society that compels people to humiliate themselves for spare change? Come see what the most recent studies have to say about it.
Get Help from MLF – If you’re on the streets and looking for food, a place to sleep, and a compassionate ear, there are places you can go. Check to the right of this page for food and truck information, our CF! Housing Program application, and other helpful food, shelter, and counseling resources.
Share Your Thoughts On Homelessness – We want to hear from you! Tell us your story, whether you’re an MLF supporter, a person who has been touched by our service, or a first-time volunteer.
Get Help From MLF
Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a social outreach ministry that ministers to the homeless and indigent working poor through our two programs: our MLF Food Trucks that distribute food throughout the community, and our Community First! Program, which lifts our homeless brothers and sister off the streets into gently-used RV homes. You can read more about our Community First! Program, or fill out an application.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes recognizes that not all services and agencies follow the same spiritual philosophy or church teachings and simply shares this list of other health and well-being services as information. When confronted with complex moral scenarios, Mobile Loaves & Fishes follows the principle of DOUBLE EFFECT*. This principle aims to provide specific guidelines for determining when it is morally permissible to perform an action in pursuit of a good end in full knowledge that the action may also bring about bad results.
Additionally, please click here for a list of other services available in the Austin area.
• In order that one may do an action from which two effects, one good and one bad, will necessarily follow, four conditions must be simultaneously verified. If any one of these four conditions are violated the act is not morally permissible.
1 – The action must be in itself a morally good action, or at least a morally indifferent action.
2 – The good effect of the action must precede the evil effect or a least be simultaneous with it.
3 -The motive prompting the action must be directed to the achievement of the good effect, never in any way to the evil effect.
4 – The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the evil effect.
*((Source: Wm. David Solomon, “Double Effect,” The Encyclopedia of Ethics) – Lawrence C. Becker, editor)
Why panhandling? Is it really profitable? Or is there something going on in our society that compels people to humiliate themselves for spare change? These are all provocative questions that researchers have attempted to answer is a variety of ways.
Although the homeless population in any city or country is challenging to study because of their lack of permanent addresses and reliable communication, academic and practical interest in the population is growing and studies are becoming more common. We’d like to share some of the resulting facts and figures with you—they question and contradict some of the popular ideas about panhandling and the best way to solve it.
Research suggests that prosecuting panhandlers is NOT the way to stop panhandling
The issue of panhandling is best addressed by organizations and institutions that specialize in the problems of homelessness and addiction. The informal “lay person” or “giver” may contribute to this behavior. (Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Stronger Than Dirt: Public Humiliation and Status Enhancement among Panhandlers)
Research suggests that panhandlers aren’t “lazy” or “on easy street”
41% of Texas panhandlers surveyed were employed. (Homelessness in Texas: Results of a Statewide Survey, Texas Homeless Network)
Research suggests that panhandlers would rather be making money another way
The vast majority of panhandlers desire return to employment but found that health problems, mental health problems, loss of home, loss of family members, recent loss of job, and limited access hygiene facilities complicate this desire. (A Study of Public solicitation in Austin: A Preliminary Report)
Research suggests increasing minimum wage may be the best option to prevent panhandling
Short of a holistic approach to the end of homelessness, the most promising policy response to panhandling would seem to involve steps that increase income (as opposed to the prohibition of panhandling or the prosecution of panhandlers). (Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?: Homelessness, Panhandling, and the Public)
Research suggests that panhandlers are often educated
35% of Austin panhandlers reported high school diplomas or GED, and an additional 33% reported some college education or college graduates. (UT Austin Roadside Solicitors Report)
Research suggests that panhandling is a behavior passed down from childhood
23% experienced homeless before 18 years of age. (UT Austin Roadside Solicitors Report)
Research suggests that panhandlers desire viable employment
37.8% of homeless surveyed work, 89.7% wanted to work, and 89% would work a 40-hour job if they could be sure it would cover their basic living expenses, but the minimum wage of $7.25 isn’t enough. (House the Homeless, Inc & Keep Austin House/AmeriCorps, The Homeless Survey)
Learn About the Issues – If it weren’t for the panhandlers, the majority of people wouldn’t know that the homeless existed. But, with panhandling comes an abundance of negative attention. We’ve done our research about panhandling and the motivations behind it and invite you to inform yourself…you might be surprised!
Volunteer with MLF – Mobile Loaves & Fishes has locations across the country. We welcome your involvement in our ministry. But you don’t need an MLF commissary in your community to help the homeless—there are things you can do right NOW that can make a huge difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters on the street.
Plant A Seed – If you’d like to bring an MLF Ministry into your community we invite you to read more about the process we’ve developed to help you.