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A new city-funded day work program is scheduled to launch this fall and I bet you can’t guess what it is?? Work Local, led by Hospitality Hub a local nonprofit homeless resource center, is a partnership between the City of Memphis and Hospitality Hub. This program will allow panhandlers to possibly work throughout the city cleaning up blight and to supply them with much needed resources/opportunities. The Downtown-based homeless resource center Hospitality Hub will send a van to pick up 10 panhandlers in Downtown and Midtown on Tuesdays and Thursdays, pay them $9 an hour for five hours, provide free lunch, optional counseling, and have any homeless shelter fees paid for the day.
The idea for this program was discovered by a board member while on a trip in Albuquerque, New Mexico spending the day with Calvary's Communities Ministries Coordinator Christine Todd, creator of the a Better Way Program. After the visit a Memphis team formed to form Work Local into a concept. Major Strickland’s administration team started working on this program when he took office in January. The city set aside $125,000 in this year’s operating budget to fund the program. There are other community partners contributing $15, 000 and The Hub is looking to raise $46,800 for the workers’ pay through a crowd funding program. Eventually the hope is for the program to expand to other parts of the city with more work days, more panhandlers and homeless people working, and for the program to no longer require public funding.
Some were quoted saying that this program is only touching the surface of our homeless problem, that what homeless people need most are homes, and that all homeless people aren’t capable of even working. The director of operations at Hospitality Hub, Kelcey Johnson basically explains why this program will assist with all issues and not just that of jobs. Johnson stated that one benefit of Work Local is the hub will find people who can't work and connect them to services they need, according to the Commercial Appeal.
"Now it’s about to come to fruition," Johnson said. "If you give a person a dollar, that really hasn't helped them much. [The Program] is going to reduce blight in the city ... you’re going to see a number of people exit homelessness, enter permanent housing, and get permanent jobs. And really, one person living outdoors is too many people living outdoors." Quoted by The Memphis Flyer, writer Joshua Cannon
The purpose of the program seems to be more than just offering the homeless an opportunity to make money but equip them with resources for them to better themselves and help them to exit homelessness. If we always worry about what isn’t being handled before doing anything at all we will never start to resolve the problem. What were we doing before to address the homeless and panhandling issue that was decreasing the numbers?? If no one ever thought to create homeless shelters everyone would be without shelter and if no one thought to supply the homeless with food and care packages then they wouldn’t have food or basic life necessities. S/O to my friend Candice Hampton and cousin Jamell Matthews, who have both assisted with aiding the homeless with their Feed The Homeless Projects and Care Packages. Check out Operations Candy Cares and Taylor’s World for community outreach projects!
I think this program is a great idea and I hope that leads to much success, help, and hope for our homeless community!
"We must do everything in this community that we possibly can to make sure every member of this community has the opportunity to lift themselves up from their circumstances in search of a better life," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said at a press conference Wednesday. "This is a major step toward that." from the Commercial Appeal