City Funds Program to Pay Homeless People $15 to Pick Up Trash

CBS 5 SF KPIX

Nobody likes seeing litter and trash all over the ground, and the city of San Jose is no exception. The city has come up with a pretty creative solution to the problem.

San Jose is attempting to get the trash off the streets while helping homeless people get back on their feet. The city is launching a $200,000 litter cleanup program that will start in November. The unique part is that they’re hiring two dozen homeless people to pick up the litter.

Mayor Sam Liccardo explains, “Today we’re going to change the narrative from dismissing our homeless residents as part of the problem, to embracing the opportunity for them to part of the solution, both for themselves and for our community.”

San Jose has identified 40 garbage “hotspots” where the clean up efforts will be focused. The homeless employees will work in groups for about 4 hours a day, and they’ll be paid $15 per hour. The city is partnering with Goodwill and the Downtown Streets Team to make this clean-up program possible.

The Downtown Streets Team has the goal of helping homeless people and people who are at risk of becoming homeless get back on their feet. They offer work experience programs that will help lead to employment.

Chris Richardson of the Downtown Streets Team is optimistic about the program. He says, “We want to see this pilot be successful.”

Goodwill’s mission is to help “people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” In 2017 alone, Goodwill helped 288,000 people prepare for careers.

Trish Dorsey, vice president of mission services at Goodwill of Silicon Valley, said, “Goodwill’s mission aligns perfectly with the mayor’s initiative by giving people a hand up versus a hand out.”

For many of the homeless workers, this is the first time they’ve filled out a job application in a very long time. One resident, Mercy Wong, hopes she’ll be chosen for the program. She said the city helped her with her resume.

Wong says about the program, “It really helps us to be strong with ourselves, because I have a very low self esteem. They help me lift myself up and be responsible, be a good worker and be just who I am.”

Christine Gonzalez, who has been couch surfing for years, is also hopeful about the program. She says, “You don’t realize how hard it is to get back on your feet. It will give back confidence and self-esteem.”

For more details about this new program, watch the video below.

What do you think about San Jose’s new trash clean-up program? Do you think more cities should try out a similar program?