Little Rock, Arkansas and San Diego, CA, run 6-month trails
Homeless people in several US cities are being paid to pick up trash as part of a new program that is being trialed, according to reports.
In California, homeless people, who are staying at downtown San Diego’s tented shelters, will be cleaning up trash for five hours a day, FOX5 San Diego reported.
Participants in the trials will be paid $11.50 an hour for the program, called Alpha’s Project’s “Wheels of Change,” and expected to hold cleaning shifts three days a week.
“This is all about creating more opportunities for homeless individuals to lift themselves out of extreme poverty,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
“‘Wheels for Change’ will help restore dignity by allowing people to earn a paycheck and begin to get back on their feet.
“For many, this may be just the chance they need to begin turning their lives around.”
Those who participate in the program will also receive access to housing resources.
Last week, participants cleaned up trash for a span of 12 blocks, Alpha Project CEO Bob McElroy told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
He said the money the homeless people were receiving will be used productively.
“We’re not going to pick up eight or 10 random homeless people and give them money that is going to be spent on drugs and alcohol,” he told the newspaper.
“But it’s a perfect fit for the shelter.”
However, the homeless encampments rapidly growing in California cities have trash and sanitation problems themselves.
According to Fox News, officials in Orange County descended on a camp and removed at least 250 tons of trash, along with 1,100 pounds of human waste and 5,000 hypodermic needles.
A hepatitis outbreak also wreaked havoc on the state’s homeless community in recent months because of all the feces littered in the streets of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
San Diego opened three industrial-sized homeless tents, one operated by the Alpha Project, in early December to battle the hepatitis A outbreak, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Homeless people staying at the tent said on Monday they liked the work.
“It’s better than sitting in a tent all day,” Edwin Fisk, who is staying at the Alpha Project tent, said.
“It gives us something to do, you know? And you make money. Who wouldn’t want to do that?”
Nichole Hill, who has been homeless for 18 months, also said: “I get to give back to the community and have some extra money to get around.”
A similar pilot program in Little Rock, Arkansas, called the “Bridge to Work program” will see eight homeless people per day get paid for picking up trash and clearing weeds, as well as other cleanup tasks around the city.
According to WIFR, the homeless participants will be paid a rate of $9.25 an hour—the minimum wage to pick up rubbish in Arkansas—from the $80,000 in funding that the program will receive from the City of Little Rock’s Public Works Department.
The program, which is run by Canvas Community Church, kicked off on April 1 and will end on Sept. 27, the Epoch Times reports.
Alexander Williams is one of eight homeless people who is taking part in the six-month trial program.
“Hopefully you know by doing this job right here, maybe I could get hired on fully by the city or something,” Williams told 11 Alive.
Williams has the role of a supervisor as well as a driver in the new initiative—he is hopeful this program will provide him with a better future.
“I’m basically trying to change my life,” Williams added.
Similar programs have also been launched in Chicago, Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it was first implemented.