Albuquerque and New York City Just Two Examples of How Work Can End Homelessness
Over the summer, The Washington Post, reported “This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working.”
Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry on a mission to connect homeless individuals to services “Had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go.”
This gave Mayor Berry the idea to for the city to bring work to the homeless individuals instead of asking them to go out looking for work. Now in operation for over one year, Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way program employs panhandlers in day labor through the city’s beautification program.
“In partnership with a local nonprofit that serves the homeless population, a van is dispatched around the city to pick up panhandlers who are interested in working. The job pays $9 an hour, which is above minimum wage, and provides a lunch. At the end of the shift, the participants are offered overnight shelter as needed.”
To date, There’s a Better Way has employed 932 homeless individuals and over 100 people have been permanently housed.
“Kellie Tillerson, director of Employment Services at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the organization that facilitates the city’s program, said the way to dispel people of the negative associations with panhandlers is for them to do what the mayor did and engage on a human level.
‘Genuinely ask why they are in the predicament they are,’ Tillerson said. ‘Many have medical conditions, they don’t have the proper identification — you can’t get a job without one. They don’t have a Social Security card. Those little things we take for granted prohibit people from getting a job. Don’t assume they are lazy.’”
In our region, the organization Ready, Willing & Able employs the same model. Operating out of New York City, Ready Willing and Able believes that to solve homelessness for a night, you need shelter.
To solve it for good, you need work. Since Ready, Willing & Able launched in 1990, it has used paid transitional work and a holistic, individualized service package to catapult individuals into the workforce and out of cycles of homelessness, crime, and addiction.
Ready Willing & Able has given tens of thousands of individuals the tools needed to rebuild their lives. Every day, our facilities serve 700 formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals.