Ever since the government of Denver launched a program that paid homeless people to work for the city, 284 people have participated over the course of the last year. Now, 110 of the participants have found long-term work as a result, 15 of which have been have been hired by the city.
The Denver Day Works program, which launched on November 1st, 2016, paid homeless residents $12.50 per hour to perform public service work for the city. No background checks were required – all participants had to do was show up for a 3 to 6 hour shift. Even residents who lacked identification were given supplementary help so they could be given the same experience.
When participants finished their shifts, the program’s administrator would also offer financial planning services at no additional cost.
The work varied from mulching flower beds in Denver’s parks, to performing clerical work at the local library. By the time the initiative’s pilot period ended, over 10,000 hours of work and $109,000 in wages had been paid to participants involved in the program.
In order to avoid the waitlist that developed as a result of the initiative’s popularity, contractors plan on adding two more days of shift opportunities to the weekly schedule, which will allow five days of work for participants in total during the coming year. They also hope to partner with more state organizations so they can provide more work shifts to women, homeless people with disabilities, and minorities.
“If you are able and willing to better yourself and get up and do something, rather than just sitting and being stuck, Denver Day Works is there,” says Crystal, a program participant. “They will help you with anything. They got me through a lot of tough situations. When we didn’t have anything, they were there.”
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