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Placer County’s Reputation Of Generosity Contributing To Homeless Problem

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AUBURN (CBS13) – Panhandling in Placer County has gotten so bad that sheriff’s deputies are asking people to stop giving.

Auburn residents feel like they’re doing the right thing, but could this be hurting the community?

The homeless have made a home in Auburn, which is reportedly known nationally for being a place for panhandlers to pocket big money.

“It has gotten to be a reputation nationally that Auburn has a giving heart,” said Suzie Defoesset, executive director of Gathering Inn.

Some panhandlers make an astonishing $40-$60 an hour.

“Every time I see somebody I always give them money,” said Aubree.

But DeFosset is trying to convince drivers like Aubree to stop giving.

“They buy alcohol and drugs and cigarettes with them,” she said.

“I’ve had my fair share of troubles in the past, so I give back because people gave to me,” said Aubree.

But DeFosset says that’s part of the problem.

“We’ve got people up here who don’t have any intention of wanting to get into services and bettering their life,” she said.

DeFosset is handing out a pocket guide with places people can put their money instead like shelters, or the Salvation Army. She says donations have helped the Gathering Inn get 120 people into homes last year.

“You come across people who are legitimately in need and some who are not in need,” said Placer County Fifth District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery.

It’s everywhere — in shopping centers and on street corners. If the panhandlers keep making money, they’ll keep begging. Homeless advocates say if you want to help, don’t enable.

Deputies say every dollar you give to panhandlers costs taxpayers $7 because many of them end up in jail.

Some other places in Placer County offering assistance for the homeless include St. Vincent De Paul Society, Adventist Community Services and Auburn Interfaith Food Closet.

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