If not for the Legislature taking up so much space in the paper--minimum wage bills, Stand Your Ground bills, Confederate star bills, road tax bills--this next story might have had better play. You might have missed it. But it sounds like it could turn into something special.
The city directors of Little Rock are scheduled to vote next week whether to partner with a church to provide jobs to the homeless in the state's largest city. Canvas Community Church--bless it--would provide supervisors who'd pick up homeless folks a few days a week and put them to work cleaning up the place. That is, providing the manpower for clean-up projects throughout the city. And at the end of each day, pay them $9.25 an hour, in cash, for their efforts. And they'd get lunch out of the deal.
The papers say the program is based on a project out in Albuquerque called There's A Better Way, and there certainly is.
First, those who need the money will be able to earn it without standing in traffic with signs that say "Homeless," looking for a handout. It's not that most Arkansawyers have anything against those in need, but some of these folks holding signs along our busy intersections look fit enough to work.
And in a state economy in which less than 4 percent of the people are unemployed, most anybody can find a job if they want one. The unemployment rate is so low that economists call it Frictional Unemployment, which means even 4 percent can be explained away by folks moving from one city to the next, or changing jobs for another reason.
Also, the place could use a once-over. There are streets covered with litter. There are ditches full of trash. Why some folks don't take more pride in this small and wonderfully green state, we can't guess. The cigarette butts under an interstate overpass would take most of a day to clean. We know a woman who volunteered to clean the side of a roadway once. Her theory is that if all Americans were required to clean the streets for a week as young adults, our streets and highways would be as pristine as those in Germany or France.
What would Little Rock's new idea cost? Rachel Herzog's story said $80,000. Which sounds like a pittance if we could just get the beer cans and fast-food papers off the medians.
As far as those who could use the money, we had a friend who said it best: Some of the best mental health relief comes through structure and a paycheck. Here's hoping this idea is successful. For the homeless who'd participate. And for the rest of us.
Editorial on 03/15/2019
Print Headline: A much better way