An answer from the past to a recent post by Paul Ryburn:
having spent much of my life in Boston, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, I can assure everyone in Memphis that downtown Memphis has far fewer panhandlers and homeless than I am used to encountering in other great American cities. Rather, what makes their presence in Memphis so salient is the relative emptiness of the streets, something I've already commented on in the context of pedesterian-friendliness. Thus, in Memphis, it's often the case that the only people in the streets are the panhandlers, so they make up a much greater percentage of the individuals you encounter as you walk around downtown Memphis than they would in any city with regular foot traffic.Stop thinking less. Start thinking more.
So, want to fix up the problem of making downtown Memphis a more attractive destination? Get more people out on the streets; never mind the panhandlers.