Homeless paid to pick up trash; program called success, expanded through 2020

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An initiative to pay a city's homeless population to pick up trash and be paid minimum wage has done so well it will continue another year.

The Bridge to Work program in Little Rock, Arkansas, started in April and was expected to last only 6 months. But at a Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night, city Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said he intends to expand the beautification program through September 2020, KTHV reported.

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Not only are the homeless who are tasked with cleaning up their city getting paid, they're also receiving mental and physical health services and job interviews.

Some have also found temporary housing.

There are 380 homeless people who have signed up to work in teams of eight. Seven spots are filled on each team when the crews go out, with the final position earmarked for someone who is a panhandler who wants to join the route, according to KTHV.

Workers have asked 158 people who were asking for spare change, and 44 agreed to work.

Over the 5-month period that the program was active, the teams cleaned 130 sites, worked 1,821 hours and collected 2,056 bags of trash, KTHV reported.

Each worker gets paid $9.25 an hour and the program is run through Canvas Community Church.