Way To Go Albuquerque! More Cities Need To Do This

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Most cities are cracking down on panhandlers as numbers rise due to increased unemployment and homelessness. However, simply forcing those without means of survival down backstreets and alleys or sending them to jail is not a solution. One town in New Mexico believes it has a better way, and it's running a pilot project to prove it. A pilot program run by the city of Albuquerque and St. Martin’s Hospitality Center is offering panhandlers who wish to participate the chance to earn $9 per hour for a day's work. These projects help the city with things such as beautification and trash patrols. Jobs vary from light gardening work, including weeding, to landscaping, but they are all necessary work that helps out the community as a whole. A 16-passenger van tours the town early in the day and stops to collect any panhandlers who are interested, transporting them to the work site for free.

As well as paying in cash at the end of each day, the project uses the opportunity to link participants with housing, mental health and full time employment search resources. The intent is to provide an alternative to those who choose it without enacting or enforcing draconian anti-panhandling legislation. Eight to 12 people per week are participating in the program, which began on a twice-a-week basis.

While none of the participants has yet sought a permanent job, their input to city maintenance has enabled Albuquerque's employees to expand the city improvement programs they have completed, leading to improvements in the town. The participation rates are so encouraging that the leaders of the project hope to make it a five-days-a-week. There are no current plans to shelve the project, despite its official pilot status, and the fact that the $50,000 initial funding lasts only to the end of the current fiscal year. This video helps people envision the importance of the project.

Simply outlawing activities that are the result of poverty, lack of opportunity and other life issues doesn't make them go away. New thinking is needed, and supporting projects that help others is vital. Find out how you can help today.

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