WBEZ | panhandlers http://www.wbez.org/tags/panhandlers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Working for change on Chicago’s sidewalks http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/working-change-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalks-107567 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/omPk6LNLZ4w" width="560"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F95924770&amp;color=009dff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A listener who only went by &ldquo;Melissa&rdquo; sent along this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What is the average income of a street performer in Chicago per year? What about a panhandler?</em></p><p>Too bad we couldn&rsquo;t reach Melissa; we wanted to know what sparked her curiosity in the first place, and whether she had any leads to consider.</p><p>Regardless, we hit up experts for some estimates, and then we hit the streets to interview a panhandler and two street performers about their wages. Ultimately, the estimates line up pretty well with the responses we got on the streets.</p><p>Scientific? No. Revealing? Yes, especially when you consider that we were warned that street musicians in particular might not want to tell us their wages. Also, each person has a lot to say about whether they need the money, people&rsquo;s expectations when they give money, and they even have a few thoughts about each other.</p><p><strong>Whom we interviewed</strong></p><p>Christian Perez is a 33-year-old man who panhandles at the corner of Ogden and Western Avenues on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side. Perez panhandles for about nine hours per day and says he makes about $60 each time. If he did this every day of the year, he&rsquo;d make around $22,000.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/magician%20web.jpg" style="height: 204px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Magician and dancer Ozzie Leyva. He says he makes $80-100 on a good day doing magic in downtown Chicago. (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona-Maguigad)" /></p><p>Jim Lobianco, the executive director of Streetwise, a group that works with former panhandlers and offers them a job selling magazines, says some panhandlers can make up to $100 or $200 dollars per day if they are located in areas with high pedestrian traffic. But, he says, it&rsquo;s unlikely that they&rsquo;re doing that every day, year round.</p><p>Street performers&rsquo; hourly income seems to vary. Gabe Chapman, who founded a street musicians&rsquo; support organization called Chicago Street Musicians, estimates that during a rush musicians can make $30-$40 per hour; during a slow hour, he says, it&rsquo;s more like $10. Most musicians don&rsquo;t work 8-hour days.</p><p>Based on a presumed five hours of playing, the averages provided by the performers we talked to line right up with Chapman&rsquo;s estimates: Magician Ozzie Leyva says he averages $80-$100 a day, and though musician Kaliq Woods was hesitant to give a number, told us (after being pressed) that $100 was a fair estimate for a day&rsquo;s work.</p><p>Performers also deal with related costs; for example, they must pay the city $100 for a permit that lasts two years. And Woods says he spends $15 or so per shift on a cab, and he also pays for reeds, new instruments and batteries for a portable amp. On the flip side, street performing isn&rsquo;t his only job; he also tours and records with several bands. And as you see in the video, Woods insists that he&rsquo;s not in it for the money anyway.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/musician.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Musician Kaliq Woods. He says he can make up to $100 playing on Michigan Avenue. He says for him, street performance is not about the money. (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona-Maguigad)" /></p><p>One commonality between the two is problems with police. Woods complained about being pushed off corners by new regulations and noise prohibitions. Panhandlers are also subject to a set of laws about where and how they can ask for money.</p><p>A key difference between the two lifestyles is stability. Most street musicians see what they do as a profession to take pride in; panhandling is often accompanied by instability. While panhandlers can potentially make more on a given day, both people on the street and the experts we talked say panhandling is a more challenging lifestyle.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace and Adriana Cardona are Pritzker Journalism Fellows at WBEZ. Follow Lewis <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a> and Adriana <a href="http://twitter.com/nanisc99">@nanisc99</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 11:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/working-change-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalks-107567