The City of New York has had to shut down 21 homeless encampments since the summer because they were violating laws about pedestrian access. And now as winter approaches, we pedestrians are being treated to a new homeless hustle, the beggar with pets, cats, dogs, parrots sometimes a combination of all three. The obvious reason for the furry and/or feathered friends is that the animals make the vagrant more sympathetic and we rationalize our generosity and compassion by saying it’s to feed the critters not the unsavory character, who we suspect, usually correctly, is playing us.
How’s this for a solution? if panhandling street beggars and homeless vagrants bother you, stop giving them money.
'If this is upsetting to you, don't give them money': That is the pragmatic suggestion announced yesterday by the city's fine police commisioner Bill Bratton. It is harsh, but sensible and echoes the approach the city took during Mayor Koch's successful administration in the 1980's.
I'm going to still slip the bum a couple of bucks. But it's for me, not for him or his pet accomplice.