Mayor finds ready workforce in local homeless


[image credit: Washington Post]

Homeless are seen by many employers as “unemployable”

When Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry spoke with the panhandlers he met throughout his tenure, they frequently related that they would rather work than be on the streets. Panhandling is a demoralizing experience, and while many transients are told to “go find some work,” they are seen as unemployable by most local businesses.

Solution: The city employs them directly

Mayor Berry, seeing an immediate need for a city workforce, decided to bring work to the homeless with a new “There’s a Better Way” program. Panhandlers are hired for the day at $9/hr, and are given lunch and a place to stay for the night.

In less than a year since its start, the program has given out 932 jobs clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. And more than 100 people have been connected to permanent employment.

“You can just see the spiral they’ve been on to end up on the corner. Sometimes it takes a little catalyst in their lives to stop the downward spiral, to let them catch their breath, and it’s remarkable,” Berry said in an interview. ”They’ve had the dignity of work for a day; someone believed in them today.”

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Category: Employment


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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