Albuquerque’s New Program Gives Panhandlers Jobs Instead of Tickets

They’re breaking the cycle of poverty instead of encouraging it.

Via YouTube

Recently, cities and states have been cracking down on panhandlers with laws such as the “pedestrian safety ordinances” in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Florida’s ban on “activities in the public rights of way along all major county roads.” These laws levy hefty fines on an already vulnerable population and work to further the vicious cycle of poverty. Unable to pay fines, the homeless are often imprisoned or, with panhandling no longer an option, forced to resort to criminal activity.

While some municipalities choose to criminalize poverty, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has taken a positive approach to helping its most vulnerable with its There’s a Better Way program. Joining forces with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the city gives panhandlers the option to work on cleanup crews to help beautify the city. For their hard work, they’re paid $9 per hour for five and a half hours daily, and when their shift is over, they’re given access to vital services to help break the cycle of homelessness.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings, driver/supervisor William Cole rolls around Albuquerque asking the homeless if they’d like to have a job for the day. Participants clean up about a ton of garbage and debris throughout Albuquerque. “People really appreciate the beautification in their neighborhoods,” Cole says in the video below. “Overall, I think this is a better way for people to get money in their pockets other than panhandling.”

Albuquerque’s Mayor Richard J. Berry sees the program is a great way to get people off the streets to give them access to services that can help break the cycle of homelessness. “They can get a little bit of foundation and get connected to some of the services through our local nonprofits,” Berry Told the Albuquerque Journal. “They can start getting treatment for substance abuse if that’s the issue, or mental health if that’s the issue. We hope to see some uplifting stories come out of this.”

Instead of giving citations to homeless people for panhandling, Albuquerque passed a new initiative that allows them to earn money for jobs in the city. (via Mayor Richard J. Berry)

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, February 3, 2016
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

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