For people likes Fox News' John Stossel, who believe panhandlers are really raking it in for upwards of $80K/year, here's a news flash: according to a survey funded by the the Union Square Business Improvement District, San Francisco panhandlers make less than $25 a day.
According to the survey, which involved 146 people over a two-day period around Union Square, "the typical panhandler is a disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years." Contrary to popular suspicions, 94 percent said that they use the money they glean for food (44 percent use it for drugs or alcohol).
- 83 percent are men
- 48 percent are African American
- 31 percent are white
- 69 percent are single
- 26 percent served in the military
- 70 percent are 40 to 59 years old
- 58 percent have been panhandling for at least five years
- 53 percent panhandle seven days a week
- 60 percent make $25 a day or less
- 94 percent use the money for food
- 44 percent use it for drugs or alcohol
- 62 percent are disabled
- 25 percent are alcoholics
- 32 percent are addicted to drugs
- 82 percent are homeless
Researchers also surveyed 400 people who had given money to panhandlers in the past year, and found that the majority were young working-class Bay Area residents (not tourists or tech workers). Meanwhile, a New York Times article notes that Twitter's payroll tax break will save them at least $22 million over six years in their new nearby mid-Market offices.