Street corner panhandlers: Plea for help, or scam to get your money?

DENVER — In a city that’s known for its endless beauty and opportunity, the problem of homelessness and panhandling continues to require the focus of both city leaders and the area’s nonprofit organizations.

On Tuesday, over 100 people showed up across the metro area to conduct a count of the number of people who are homeless and living in Denver.

The Metropolitan Denver Homeless initiative, a nonprofit organization, hopes to use the numbers to educate citizens about the presence of homelessness within their communities.

The problem, which can be found on just about any street corner during rush hour traffic, has been met with several ideas and solutions in years past but without much luck.

“They’d be surprised what I really make,” said Lionel Connell, a panhandler we found setup outside a McDonald’s along Lincoln St. and Alameda Ave.

In a FOX31 Denver special report, homeless panhandlers around the metro area reported seeing a drop in the amount of money being donated in recent years.

“There’s just no work out there, I think the unemployment is unreal,” added Connell.

To understand what the Mile High City’s homeless are facing, we went undercover to document what the process and situation is like for countless people every day.

Using three signs, three different street corners, and three layers of clothing, FOX31 Denver worked to understand what a typical panhandler will face out on the streets.

After roughly eight hours of panhandling, our donations totaled less than $15.

“You don’t make nearly what they think, probably if people did know they’d probably help you out a little more,” added Connell.

The money collected by FOX31 Denver will be donated to Denver’s Road Home, an organization that works to prevent homelessness and offers assistance to people in need.