Why Don’t We Just Give Jobs to Homeless People?

In Albuquerque and London, organizations are using small-scale employment to give homeless people another chance.

The season of giving is upon us, which often reminds people of the less fortunate in the world. Food banks report record giving of both edible items and monetary donations during the holidays, which can often keep the organizations going months into the new year. The urge to keep someone's stomach full during winter cold helps homeless people make it through, but what can help beyond that? How about also providing them with jobs?


Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque, New Mexico has been doing just that. In trying to move away from punitive approaches to homelessness, his office has been working in conjunction with Saint Martin Hospitality Center to create a new kind of job-opportunity program. Through the program, a van is driven around that offers to pick up visibly homeless individuals to go do day-labor work. Workers get paid above minimum wage.

Saint Martin also offers a variety of other services that homeless or poor people can take advantage of, meaning that the job opportunity is part of a larger system of support to get folks back on their feet. So far, 37 other cities have already called Albuquerque to learn more about how the van program works.

An organization in London called Change Please had a similar idea. Change Please drives a fleet of coffee trucks around the city and staffs them with people struggling with homelessness. In working on a Change Please truck for six months, baristas learn valuable job skills that will help them gain more permanent employment in the future.

Spokespersons from both Change Please and the Saint Martin initiative admit that their efforts are small at present, impacting a few dozen homeless folks at a time. In reality, there are thousands of people in each city who could benefit from the same kind of assistance. But both places seem to provide models that others could follow in providing more job opportunities to low-income families and individuals in the long term. Perhaps small scale isn’t such a bad way to start?

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

---


---

Stefani Cox is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors.  Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

If you want to spot a narcissist, look at the eyebrows

Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.

Big Think illustration / Actor Peter Gallagher attends the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
popular
  • Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
  • Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
  • The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less