"They'll only spend it on booze"

Sometimes, people object to giving homeless people money, on the grounds that “they’ll only spend it on booze.“

That ignores something important: people who are dependent on alcohol still need and deserve help. Alcoholism is not a superpower that allows people to survive outdoors in subzero temperatures without food and warm clothing.

The idea that people have to be sober to be worthy of help kills a lot of people in other ways. Most transitional housing services require someone to be either sober or in treatment. The practical effect of this is that people who aren’t able or aren’t ready to get sober are often denied assistance with housing. It’s true the chronic alcoholism kills people, but exposure and starvation kills them a lot faster. 

Further, homeless people who are hardcore addicted to alcohol *need* to spend a lot of their money on booze. If someone is addicted to alcohol, then alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Suddenly cutting off their alcohol supply isn’t going to save them, and it may well kill them.

Also, people who are homeless and addicted to alcohol are often veterans who returned home from war traumatized and with no material or mental health support. They’re also often people who were abused as children, grew up in foster care, and aged out with no support. Or any number of other things. American culture creates circumstances that drive people to drink, then uses their drunkenness as a reason to deny them help.

Denying people access to housing and other forms of support necessary for survival not a good way to help them get their lives together. 

tl;dr Homeless people who are addicted to alcohol still need and deserve help. “They’ll just spend it on booze” is not a good reason to deny someone money.