The 'Bridge to Work' program, which began in April, pays members of the homeless community $9.25 an hour to clean up litter from its city streets. That's more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Homelessness is a serious problem in the United States. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2018, there were around 553,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night, which comprises over 0.17% of the population. In order to do something about this issue, the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, has come out with a plan to help its homeless population as well as clean its city streets up.
The city has initiated the 'Bridge to Work' program back in April, which pays members of the homeless community $9.25 an hour to clean up litter and garbage from its city streets. Considering that the current federal minimum wage is only at $7.25, this gives unemployed homeless people a great chance to make some money.
Those who participate in the program also receive mental and physical health services, help with job interviews and temporary housing. The goal isn’t necessarily spotless streets; it’s an opportunity for people to turn their fortunes around.
Little Rock, Ark., homeless people are getting paid minimum wage to pick up trash as part of a trial program being rolled out in the state seeking to help people transition from homelessness.— Rick Wayne (@rickwayne310) September 8, 2019
According to a local CBS station, the effort is called the Bridge to Work program.
Homelessness in the United States affects many segments of the population, including families, children, domestic violence victims, ex-convicts, veterans, and the aged. Efforts to assist the homeless include federal legislation, non-profit efforts, increased access to healthcare services, supportive housing, and affordable housing.
Fantastic idea by @FrankScottJr and the city of Little Rock to think outside of the box to address the city’s homeless problem.— Michael Danko (@MichaelWDanko) September 9, 2019
$9.29/hr for homeless to clean streets. Participants also receive housing, health services, & more. #forwardthinking https://t.co/1MLL6KSlsg
12 News Now reported that Mayor Frank Scott Jr of Little Rock, Arkansas, said he will draft a resolution to extend 'Bridge to Work' through the end of September 2020—an additional year. During the meeting, Associate Pastor Paul Atkins complimented the program and spoke about how much of a positive impact it has had on their society so far.
“We want to work with them on their next step," Atkins told the board members. "There are a lot of barriers that our people experience to go from homelessness and panhandling to full-time work. There’s a lot of steps in between.”. The program has been run by Canvas Community Church who also reported that the City of Little Rock spent $80,000 on the program's first six months. "We’re super excited about what has gone on, and we hope to be able to keep the momentum going,” pastor Paul Atkins said, according to 12 News Now.
Causes of homelessness in the United States include lack of affordable housing, divorce, lawful eviction, negative cash flow, post-traumatic stress disorder, foreclosure, fire, natural disasters (hurricane, earthquake, or flood), mental illness, physical disability, having no family or supportive relatives, substance abuse, lack of needed services, elimination of pensions and unemployment entitlements, no or inadequate income sources (such as Social Security, stock dividends, or annuity), poverty (no net worth), gambling, unemployment, and low-paying jobs.
This program pays homeless people $9.25 per hour to pick up trash in the city. Do you think that this kind of program could work in Beaumont? https://t.co/QhJ6bcKVRk— 12NewsNow (@12NewsNow) September 8, 2019
"To make the program bigger and better, we do need folks to walk with our friends on a one-on-one basis," Atkins said. "I hesitate to call it a mentor thing, cause you'll probably learn as much as you teach. You know, that’s the kind of thing that you and I probably had from our families, and churches and synagogues and schools. You know, we had it all around us, and that kept holding us up and pushing us forward. Our people have lost that, either because they did something to burn a bridge, or the bridge just fell in behind them, and they just need that extra support.”
Initially, one of the team leaders of the program, Felecia Cooks, was not convinced that this venture would be successful in any way. But after the response it has generated over the last few months, she exclaimed that "This is just a dream come true for the entire community."
“When I first started, from Day One, I couldn’t catch the vision, nor could I travel the journey," Cooks stated. "But, you know, we’ve taken out over 400-and-something persons. And let me tell you, that has been the most exciting thing that I’ve done in my life. The energy, just the positive (energy), the vision that Canvas Community Church has. You know, it’s just wonderful. And the people, they love the vision or the program, and that’s what’s made it so exciting, that they know that Pastor Paul has worked hard for them. And this is just a dream come true for the entire community!”
Little Rock, Arkansas passed an ordinance last week that will allow homeless people to pick up trash around the city for $9.25/hour (the state’s minimum wage) for four hours a day + three days a week. Do you think this could work in Cola?https://t.co/259nWCGYl4— COLAtoday (@colatoday) September 3, 2019
Cooks got emotional as she spoke of the excitement she felt when Mayor Scott Jr. mentioned wanting to give the program another year. "I just knew," she said. "I never had a doubt. I never had a doubt because I knew our potential and I knew that we would get to this point. And so, it made me just want to just cry out with tears of joy.”