Instead of spare change, roadside panhandlers in Albuquerque, New Mexico will be getting $9 an hour, if they want a job for the day.

The mayor announced the program, “There’s a Better Way,” by unveiling a van that will cruise through the city two days a week, picking up beggars who’d rather spend the day working on a variety of city beautification projects. At the end of the day, the panhandlers will be dropped off at a homeless shelter, St. Martin’s Hospitality center, paid in cash, and informed about the services that are available to them.teens-build-Tiny-House-for-homeless-screenshot

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The initiative is part of a pilot project between the city and St. Martin’s. If it works out, they hope to expand it to more days each week.

“Our goal is to transfer them into full-time employment,” St. Martin’s Director Rev. Rusty Smith told the Albuquerque Journal.
Better-Way-Sign-Screen-Shot-kqreThe city will start small, hoping to pick up 10 people each days in the van. Mayor Richard Berry said he expects it to expand as panhandlers become more receptive to the idea.

The “Better Way” project has also put out signs at street corners frequented by panhandlers, letting them know they can call 311 to get help with food and shelter (pictured at left).

veteran-WTNH-news-videoSince it began in May, the signs have been set out on 33 intersections and about 2,300 people have called for help, while $1600 in donations have been collected.

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(Watch the video above from There’s a Better Way’s website – Images via KRQE video)

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