Beggars / Panhandlers / Homeless, Seattle
Panhandling is a problem in Seattle because there are no city ordinances that outlaw it specifically (though there is a "no-sitting" ordinance meant to discourage it).
But some "panhandlers" are actually out on the street selling a local paper called Real Change. It is a paper produced and sold by the local homeless population, and vendors get to keep a commission for the papers they sell. So feel good about supporting those vendors if you find them. (Just make sure they are wearing their identification badges and not asking for money beyond the price of the paper you buy.)
Perhaps neither a warning nor danger, but Seattle has a high degree of homeless people wandering the downtown streets as with many big cities on the West coast. The homeless often compete with the tourists for choice space in public areas such as parks, public benches and squares overlooking the city’s famous sights. Perhaps it’s a little perverse, but I do enjoy the dichotomous mix of the homeless amongst the tourists. And when the cops come on the scene, it gets even better.
I think downtown Seattle is pretty safe during the day, especially in the tourist areas. But I saw lots of beggars and homeless people in downtown Seattle, especially if you head away from the tourist areas. So beware and don't assume Seattle is the safest city on Earth. But definitely enjoy Seattle, its parks and views, etc.; Seattle is definitely not a run-down city by any means.
There are alot of homeless people in Seattle, and they can be occasionally aggressive. In areas like the University District you will run into all of the young homeless kids who came to Seattle looking for fame....I wouldn't recommend walking around alone at night downtown.
There is a real problem with homeless people in the city. Although it seems like the right thing to do, do not give these people money it will only contribute to the problem - there are shelters and food pantries available for them.
Beware of begging dogs! Actually, there are many homeless people (and dogs) in the city, but they really don't bother you. I'm one of those who always gives them some money anyway, and how could anyone pass by this fella?! At least he was warm with his sweater and hat on.....
There were a /lot/ of homeless people while I was there, most of them exhibiting extreme antisocial tendencies (open destruction of public/private property, brawling in the streets, sleeping on any available surface). Due to the large amount of tourism, the homeless aren't the least bit afraid to approach people. Seattle discourages giving people hand-outs -- it's dangerous for you and you're not really helping the individual. If someone asks you for money or any other property, it's advised to tell them no.