Homeless people in Arkansas are being given the opportunity to earn money by picking up litter as part of an ongoing six-month trial.
Officials in Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, approved the ‘Bridge to Work’ programme in March in an attempt to clean up the city while also providing a job opportunity for those living on the streets.
City Board members approved spending $80,000 on the trial, which kicked off on April 1. The pilot programme is run by Canvas Community Church and allows homeless people to work for four hours a day, three days a week, to earn the minimum wage of $9.25 an hour by picking up litter left along Little Rock roads.
Little Rock City Board member Kathy Webb told ABC News she didn’t think they’d have any problem filling the roles as ‘there are a lot of folks out there who want to work’. As well as those picking up the trash two supervisors, paid $11 an hour, would help pick up employees and transport them to and from work sites.
The $80,000 used to fund the program came from the city’s Public Works fund and is being used to provide the worker and supervisor salary as well as supplies and petrol for the city van. The programme can take eight people each day.
One employee, Carl, spoke to ABC News about the programme in May, saying:
It’s [only] $37.50, but when you don’t have two pennies to rub together, that’s a lot. Not every homeless person [wants] to get a job, but there are plenty of them that do.
Well done Little Rock for providing hopes for the hopeless. God bless you! And thanks to Miss Kaya Jones for the updates.
— Mark Haokip (@haokip_mt) April 2, 2019
Canvas Community Church associate pastor Paul Atkins spoke about how he hoped the programme would change lives, saying:
The goal is to have an immediate impact on the people with the immediate ability to work and get paid for that work but also the long-term impact would be to connect them to services that let them get to their next step.
The church reportedly also offer mental health services, addiction services and help with getting more permanent work.
If they have an angle on some decent work, that’s good.
It sounds like a great idea, I hope it works and helps get some homeless people off the street. It's dangerous on the street.
— Colorado Taxgirl (@FarmWomanQuotes) April 2, 2019
The trial is set to run until September 27, when the city will assess its effectiveness, considering the overall beautification of Little Rock as well as how many people it ultimately helps.
What a brilliant initiative!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.