Caltrans workers pick up litter just North of the Parish Road exit in Benicia along the shoulder of northbound Interstate 680, Wednesday. Caltrans crews picked up litter to bring attention to Litter Awareness Day. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)
It’s a no-brainer.
The city of Fort Worth just came up with a creative solution to fight homelessness and clean up the city at the same time: paying homeless people to pick up city litter.
The Texas city’s “Clean Slate Program” pays the homeless $10 an hour (plus benefits and paid vacation) to clean the city’s streets. Frank Crist, 53, served time in prison and ended up without a place to live. So he moved into the Presbyterian Night Shelter, the Fort Worth-based homeless center that runs the Clean Slate Program, and started to turn his life around.
“It just makes you feel better keeping it cleaned up,” he told NBC Dallas Fort-Worth. “It means a lot. I mean, with my record and stuff, I really had no other place that would hire me.”
Last year, the program employed 40 people in Fort Worth, at a cost $48,000 to the city. (Fort Worth funds the program, and the shelter runs it.)
The Clean Slate Program is one of many programs across the U.S. that are starting to realize the potential in the homeless population. Denver, Chicago, Albuquerque, and Portland, Maine each have similar programs that employ homeless people to work for the city.
Through a program called “Denver Day Works,” the city of Denver employed 284 homeless people last year. More than 100 of them went on to find long-term work for employers other than the city, suggesting that their experience with the city program helped them get hired by private companies.
After Denver hired homeless people to shovel mulch and perform other day labor, more than 100 landed regular jobs from UpliftingNews
The homeless workers in Denver were paid $12.50 an hour to do tasks like cleaning up local parks and working the desk at a public library.
“If you are able and willing to better yourself and get up and do something, rather than just sitting and being stuck, Denver Day Works is there,” said Crystal, a program participant. “They will help you with anything. They got me through a lot of tough situations. When we didn’t have anything, they were there.”
Above, Reddit users commenting on a news story about the Denver program.
All of these programs have one thing in common – giving the homeless a chance to get back on their feet. After nearly two years in the shelter, Crist, the former convict in Fort Worth, is about to move into his own apartment.
“It took me about a year, a year-and-a-half, but everything is coming together,” he said. “It feels great. Didn’t think it was ever going to happen again, but now it has.”
Top image via DailyRepublic.com