Through the Eyes on an Ex-Panhandler in Recovery

on Thursday, 03 May 2012. Posted in Breaking News, Cocaine

Addiction and Panhandling

Michigan newspaper speaks with an ex-panhandler, who describes the life of a panhandler. He is now in recovery and works for a landscaping company. He hopes to offer some panhandling advice to the passerby.

Forty-nine-year-old Carl Hullett used to live in a parking garage. According to WILX.com, he claims he was "the ultimate panhandling salesman." For two years, he panhandled in East Lansing, Michigan. He claims to have $150 a day, and upward of $400 on game days.

Carl admits he used the money he made panhandling to support a crack cocaine addiction. He said, "I can honestly say that most people out here are supporting one type of addiction or another, whether its drugs or alcohol."

In South Lansing, an apparent panhandling operation has it down to a science. They stake out the best intersections and work in teams. They are dropped off in the morning and picked up at night to return to their homes. One man claimed at least one of those people makes $200 a day and uses it to buy heroin.

Another panhandling woman says this group has been threatening a turf war for the intersection where she usually operates. She claims they cuss at her because they want the spot. She said, "I think a lot of people do do drugs, so that's what people tell me. We are homeless, and we have to pay our room everyday and buy food."

Carl feels that many of these people do need help, and he thinks a number suffer from mental illness. He also cautions against giving cash, as those who once gave him cash simply enabled his habit. He said, "I thank God for them, but at the same time, it didn't give me any incentive to look for anything different. I was just satisfied with where I was at the time."

Carl has since turned his life around, and he entered the drug rehab program at City Rescue Mission in Lansing. He got a job with a landscaping company. His parting words of advice on panhandling: Carry gift cards for restaurants in your car, and hand them to those in need.

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