Six-month program to pay homeless to work gets OK

The city Board of Directors on Tuesday approved $80,000 for a six-month pilot program that will provide paid day labor opportunities for Little Rock's homeless population.

The program, dubbed "A Bridge to Work," is to kick off next month. It's a partnership with Canvas Community Church, which has done outreach to homeless individuals before.

Canvas will provide supervisors who on three days each week will pick up people who are homeless or panhandling throughout the city and put them to work on city beautification and garbage or debris removal for four hours and pay them $9.25 cash per hour at the end of the day. Lunch will also be provided.

City officials and Canvas' leadership said they hope the day of work will provide not only a source of income but also an opportunity for those experiencing homelessness to get connected to social services.

The pilot program would use one van from the city's Public Works Department and put between eight and 10 people to work each day, Canvas associate pastor Paul Atkins said. He added that the Public Works Department would select the locations where individuals would be picked up and where they would be working on city beautification and garbage or debris removal projects.

When the pilot program ends Sept. 27, per the city's memorandum of understanding with the church, the city will decide whether to continue the program. Officials will look at data collected during the six-month period to see what it accomplished and what kinds of services participants accessed.

Metro on 03/20/2019