Why Do Homeless People Say ‘God Bless You’? (Top 3 Reasons)

A man asks for change by holding out his hat.

Have you ever noticed how many homeless people say the phrase “god bless you” in different circumstances? Maybe you’ve given them money and you’ve heard that phrase. Or maybe you told them you didn’t have any money and they still said it to you. Maybe you’re a homeless person yourself and you’ve heard other people around you say this to others.

Well there’s many reasons why homeless people tend to say this phrase a lot. Some of the reasons can be good and no harm is intended, but there’s other times where it’s used in a negative way.

I’ve been around many people on the streets who say this phrase a lot because I was homeless at one point and was able to see both sides of the fence. I’ve heard this phrase when giving money to homeless people, but I’ve also been sitting next to homeless people when they say this to others in anger.

There’s no telling why anybody says anything, because you can’t really tell what somebody is thinking all the time. But in my experience and from what I’ve noticed after hearing this phrase so many times, these are the most common reasons that homeless people use it and why they say it so often.


As a Form of “Thank You”

By far, the main reason you’ll hear so many homeless people say “god bless you” is because many of them are diehard followers of the Christian religion or are constantly around Christian influences. They will often say this after receiving money or other things from the general public as a way of saying “thank you”.

When you’re living on the streets, you’ll often hear this phrase from people working in shelters and at charitable places where resources are offered to those who don’t have much. This is because most shelters and other charities are Christian-based, so many people working at these organizations tend to use a lot of Christian phrases and try to keep those values closely linked to what they’re doing. So many homeless people hear this phrase all day long, from the employees at these places, and from other homeless people they’re living and sleeping around who are also influenced by the charities and places they frequent.

There’s also many homeless people who feel they have nowhere to turn when they end up on the streets, and when their families and friends turn their backs on them, so they often turn to religion and the Christian religion is one of the more common ones in the developing world.

So most of the time, when a homeless person says this phrase, they don’t mean anything bad by it and are just trying to say thank you or to wish good luck on you.

Mental Manipulation
Not all homeless people use “god bless you” as a way of showing appreciation though. Many will use it as a form of mental manipulation in order to get what they want or to make a person feel guilty.

You may have seen a homeless person every now and then who has a sign that reads “anything helps, god bless”. This a very common phrase you’ll see on panhandling signs and there are some people who write this specific wording on their signs who are actually oblivious to what they’re doing and are simply trying to ask for help.

But then there’s the other type of person, who purposely and consciously uses this this wording to mentally manipulate those who read it.

Some manipulate with this wording by specifically targeting Christians and those who believe in god, and by appealing their religious side in order to get more donations and more money given to them. Theists may donate simply because it can make them feel better about themselves if they feel that they are taking part in an action that their religion or god would approve of.

Others who write these words on their panhandling signs use it as a form of guilt in order to guilt-trip those very same people walking by for the exact same reason.

Instead of simply donating because it will improve their self-esteem or the way they feel about themselves within their religion, the same theists may donate simply out of guilt and to avoid the negative feelings that may follow if they don’t donate.

Imagine that you’re living on the streets and panhandling, and you ask someone walking by for some spare change. They appear to have much more money than yourself and you’re desperately struggling to get back on your feet, but they say “no” or say that they don’t have any money right now.

If you’re a manipulative person, you might then say “god bless you” as a way of making them feel bad and reminding them that sharing and helping out others is “the Christian way”.

Many people who panhandle tend to think that the general public is selfish and materialistic for not offering help to them, so they will try to make these other people feel guilty or bad for not assisting them. So when they use this phrase for manipulative reasons, they are hoping the person that refused help to them will feel guilty and will either change their mind and will return with some money, or will at least feel bad about it for the rest of the day.

There’s many homeless people that are genuinely good people and who do not try to manipulate others, but there’s also some who are actually quite manipulative and might use phases that sound nice for ulterior reasons.


As an Insult

Lastly, many people who are on the streets will say this phrase in order to insult someone else and it can be quite disrespectful when used like this.

I’ve witnessed it said in this way a few times when sitting next to others who have said it, and it’s generally not picked up as an insult or noticed by the person it’s used on in most cases, which is why it’s such an effective insult to make the person saying it feel superior.

It’s a way for homeless people or others to insult someone and for that person not to recognize it as an insult, so further altercations or consequences can be avoided and the homeless person can walk away feeling that they “won”.

Imagine a scenario where a person is asking another more well-to-do person for money and the person tells them they can’t spare any. The homeless person might then say “god bless you” and it’s their way of saying “you’re selfish” to the other person without actually saying that. It’s an insinuation and a sly one at that.

I’ve witnessed two guys go at it, where both were homeless and arguing with each other, and one man kept saying to the other one “god bless you” repeatedly towards the end of the argument as a way of ending it without coming off as insulting.

It was a way for the man saying it to appear holy or appear kind and Christian-like to those that don’t catch his real reason for using it, while also insulting the other man at the same time.

He was saying it in an angry tone and it was his way of feeling as if he had won the argument in the end because he got the last word, and it’s hard for the other person to continue arguing with a phrase like that when it appears to be polite and caring on the surface.

So as you can see, there are a variety of different reasons for people using the phrase of “god bless you”. However, most of the time I’d wager that the person saying it is genuinely being appreciative of something and falling into the first explanation that I went over where it’s a form of thank you. Homeless people are just like anybody else and they can be kind or they can be nasty, depending on the situation, how they were raised in life, or what outside influences they’ve come across along the way.