Wouldn’t it be nice if people would quit littering? In Little Rock, Arkansas the city has found a way to both employ a number of their homeless population, and tackle another public issue of littering.
Just telling someone who is experiencing homelessness to just ‘get a job,’ isn’t going to help. There are plenty of social structures which make it hard for people who don’t have money, to earn it.
When you prepare for a job interview, you likely shop for a new suit to impress, take some extra time getting ready and grooming yourself. It’s also likely that you’ll show up with a freshly printed resume, perhaps even printed on cardstock. Think about a first impression, are you going to hire the person who desperately needs the job or the person who looks the part.
Our biases make it virtually impossible for many of the homeless to find stable work.
Arkansas is hopefully paving the way for other cities, as they attempt to combat this issue.
The city is paying $9.25 per hour to pick-up garbage from the streets. This program is called “Bridge Work”. This hourly rate is $2 more than the national minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum wage in Arkansaw was increased to $9.25 in January of 2019.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr was so impressed with the results of this project and initiative, that after the sixth-month trial, the program has been extended until September 2020.
Hopefully, Arkansas will motivate other cities to do the same. As of now, the city has spent close to $80,000 on providing work and a source of income to those in need, and members of the program have also been offered a variety of resources such as mental health treatment, job interviews, and even low-income housing.
With over 380 people currently in the program, working in teams of eight, they have worked for over 1,832 hours and have cleared more than 2,000 bags of trash.
Since the program launched, the public has been sharing their positive thoughts and responses. “Other states should adopt this too,” one person wrote online. “It will benefit the city and the large number of homeless. At least you are trying to better your community in more ways than one.”
“About time,” another person wrote. “Brilliant, give these people a chance. Being homeless can happen to anyone in this country needs to do more to help its own.”