Almost a year ago, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry launched his experimental program, There's a Better Way, in order to help connect panhandlers with day jobs beautifying the city. The idea is simple but it seems to be working: instead of asking the homeless to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them. In less than a year, the program has given out 932 jobs clearing 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. More than 100 people have been connected to permanent employment.
"Berry’s effort is a shift from the movement across the country to criminalize panhandling. A recent National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty report found a noticeable increase, with 24 percent of cities banning it altogether and 76 percent banning it in particular areas.
There is a persisting stigma that people begging for money are either drug addicts or too lazy to work and are looking for an easy handout.
But that’s not necessarily the reality. Panhandling is not especially lucrative, but for some people it can seem as if it’s the only option. When they’ve been approached in Albuquerque with the offer of work, most have been eager for the opportunity to earn money, Berry said. They just needed a lift. One man told him no one had said a kind word to him in 25 years." -- The Washington Post
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