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This City Is Paying Homeless People $9.25 An Hour To Pick Up Litter

sydney.brooman 12 Sep 2019

A lot of the societal structures we have in place make it difficult for those without money to earn it.

Think about first impressions at job interviews: you'll likely choose the person with a fresh suit, nicely printed resumes, and a local mailing address over someone who desperately needs a job.

These kinds of biases make it virtually impossible for homeless people to find stable work.

Unsplash | Ev

And despite what some passers-by may think, it really doesn't make any difference to shout "get a job" at someone you see begging for money on the street.

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Arkansas's capital city is attempting to combat this discrepancy.

Instagram | @elparsley

Not only has Little Rock, Arkansas managed to employ a large number of their homeless population, but they've also solved another public issue: littering.

The city is paying homeless individuals $9.25 per hour to pick up garbage from the streets.

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The program is called 'Bridge to Work.'

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In case you didn't realize it, $9.25 per hour is actually higher than the nationwide minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr was so impressed with the results of the sixth month trial that he has extended the project until September 2020.

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Little Rock has spent around $80,000 on the initiative.

Instagram | @marinediscoveryrce

Managed by the Canvas Community Church, 'Bridge to Work' is enacting real change in the Little Rock community.

"We want to work with them on their next step," explains church member Pastor Paul Atkins. "There are a lot of barriers that our people experience to go from homelessness and panhandling to full-time work. There's a lot of steps in between."

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"We're super excited about what has gone on, and we hope to be able to keep the momentum going."

Instagram | @litterpickle

Not only do they get an income and a sense of community, but participants in the program have also been offered a variety of resources such as physical and mental health treatment, job interviews, and even low-income housing for a select few.

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Unsurprisingly, many individuals have joined this incredible initiative.

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In fact, around 380 people have signed up for the program, and working in teams of eight, they have worked over 1,832 hours and cleared more than 2,000 bags of trash.

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Local leader Felecia Cooks is ecstatic about the program's renewal.

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"I just knew," she explained to The Daily Mail. "I never had a doubt. I never had a doubt because I knew our potential and I knew that we would get to this point."

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Cook said the program has proven to be a huge success, much bigger than anyone had ever anticipated.

Instagram | @ingridcamporuiz

"This is just a dream come true for the entire community," she said.

“When I first started, from Day One, I couldn’t catch the vision, nor could I travel the journey," she admitted. "But, you know, we’ve taken out over 400-and-something persons. And let me tell you, that has been the most exciting thing that I’ve done in my life. The energy, just the positive (energy), the vision that Canvas Community Church has. You know, it’s just wonderful."

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"It made me just want to just cry out with tears of joy."

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Since the program has begun, it has received an outpouring of positive reactions from the public.

"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 this country needs to do more to help it's own."

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There are so many cities with so many people who would benefit from a similar program.

Unsplash | Matt Collamer

Initiatives such as these are important for communities in so many ways, and it is inspiring to see Little Rock using their resources to take steps in the right direction for all of their citizens.

h/t: The Daily Mail

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