There may be a better way to give panhandlers what they want – and give the city something beautiful in return.
Richard Berry, the Republican mayor of Albuquerque, was driving around his city last year and saw a homeless man with a sign that read “Want a job. Anything helps.” So the mayor decided to speak with this man … and continued to drive around finding other homeless people and listening to what they had to say.
Now Albuquerque is about to celebrate the one year anniversary of its successful “There’s a Better Way” program. The program, which is the brainchild of the Berry’s conversations with the homeless, hires panhandlers to work in maintenance jobs and also aims to connect them with services.
You see, instead of asking the jobless to go look for work, the city realized it could bring the work to them. So, Albuquerque partnered with a local nonprofit that helps the homeless, and now a van is dispatched around the city to pick up panhandlers who are interested in working. The job pays $9 an hour (this is above minimum wage), and provides a lunch. At the end of the day, participants are offered overnight shelter.
The Washington Post reports that in less than a year, the program has given out 932 jobs, and has rid the city of 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 blocks, connecting more than 100 people to permanent employment.
Do you think this could be a win-win-win for WinnWinnWinnipeg? Help the homeless, beautify our city, and create a safer community? Taking your calls and texts after 1pm: 204.780.6868.