the best response at a system-wide level is universal unemployment benefits - the dole. as a right, not as some form of time-limited insurance based on their previous employment. ditto for universal health care, socialised health care, not private insurance.
in short, the things that civilised western democracies have but the USA does not.
people who have a minimal regular income, and are able to feed, house, and clothe themselves and their families are less desperate and less likely to commit crimes to get some cash. same if they are able to access medical services *without* going tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt.
it's cheaper to society than the cost of crime, the cost of unsafe streets, the cost of police, the cost of hospitalisations or death when muggings go wrong, and it's cheaper than the cost of prison.
there will, of course, still be a tiny handful of crazies who prefer the criminal life, or are incapable of anything else, but there's nowhere near enough people like that for it to be a serious concern...easily handled by police. most people would rather not be criminals, or to be so desperate that they have no other choice but to threaten others.