Social Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Why do homeless and addicts usually congregate in the downtowns of major cities?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (24336points) 2 months ago

Have you noticed?

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12 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

They stay in places near to services and food. Rural areas don’t have the services that the inner city has.

gondwanalon's avatar

That’s where they get free food.

chyna's avatar

That’s where the people are that they can beg from.

ragingloli's avatar

Easier to find a half-eaten sandwich in a trash can where a lot of people frequent.

cookieman's avatar

Easier access to shelters, public bathrooms, public transportation, food pantries, other people to receive generosity from, hospital emergency rooms, clinics, dumpsters behind restaurants.

elbanditoroso's avatar


About 20 years ago, I was working for a county agency that provided certain services to homeless people in downtown Atlanta. I learned a lot.

One thing I learned is that homeless people don’t usually stay in the same city all the time. There is/was a seasonality to where they were. They would stay in Atlanta for a month or two, and when it got too cold to sleep outside, they would panhandle enough to catch a Greyhound to Miami, stay there for several months, then panhandle enough to go to Tampa, and so on.

It was a predictable, seasonal circuit around the Southeast. And the Greyhound station, as well as other homeless shelters, were/are all downtown.

Entropy's avatar

Lots of reasons contribute.

Most persistent homeless are dealing with some combination of substance abuse and/or mental illness that keeps them homeless. Inner cities have more people, so even if we assumes that some fixed percentage of people would be homeless, cities would have more.

But the percentage isn’t fixed. Cities have anonymity. When you beg for money in a rural place where everyone recognizes you as the same guy they gave to yesterday, they quickly start to feel like you’re taking advantage of them and are less likely to give money. In a city, this effect isn’t zero…but it’s lower.

Cities have higher cost of living, so it’s easier to find yourself being evicted. You’ve probably got easier access to your drug of choice being just a short walk away whereas rurally, everything’s further away…even your drugs (though don’t be fooled, rural communities have thriving drug trades in most cases).

Cities are also more likely to be large and you get a sort of ‘not my problem’ effect. As long as the homeless stay out of the well-to-do areas, those well-off voters will continue voting for policies that they think are kind but actually create the problem, like anti-development policies (which keep prices high), or rules against public camping and indecency being relaxed because it’s more humane (as long as it’s not in ‘my backyard’) which encourages it over going to shelters or participating in programs that might help in longer term way.

Cities are also more likely to respond with impersonal social programs, whereas rural efforts are likely to be more community based. It’s harder to look someone in the eye that you know is sacrificing to help you than it is to look a social worker who’s just working for the government. Not bashing on social workers, just saying it’s easier to just view them as cogs in the system than it is a local priest for example.

A person who goes homeless in a rural area is likely FROM that rural area. They therefore have local friends and family who are likely to intervene to prevent the homelessness. Someone in a city, may or may not be from that city or from that PART of the city. It’s easier to fall through the cracks.

By no means is my list likely to exhaustive.

kritiper's avatar

More warm grates.

jonsblond's avatar

Easy access to amenities

Forever_Free's avatar

Rural area’s don’t offer an accepted area to congregate either. You just may not see them in rural areas. They are less likely to live on the street and more likely to live in a car.
Rural areas lack resources and infrastructure with limited transportation, limited job opportunities or housing to start with.
Additionally there is less policy making in rural towns as opposed to cities that have a larger structure to tackle this.

YARNLADY's avatar

Here where the weather is generally warm, we have them everywhere, but mainly along various rivers, creeks and streams, since they get free running water to drink and “pollute”. Nearly every stand of trees or bushes in our parks has half a dozen people living there.

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