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Homeless Hired by City of Denver to Shovel. Now 100+ Have New Jobs

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“Just get a job!” When it comes to helping the homeless, that simple phrase is too often the rallying cry of well-intentioned people who’ve never thought through the challenges that come with helping the indigent.

Difficulties with ensuring adequate hygiene, difficulties with not having a stable employment background, difficulties with lacking reliable transportation — all of these elements and more make it terribly difficult for those on the street to find gainful work.

But thanks to a program that has the city of Denver hiring the homeless, over 100 individuals have new jobs.

In 2016, Denver Human Services started Denver Day Works. It was a simple idea with a modest goal.

Denver Day Works began by offering unskilled day-labor jobs to any and everyone who wanted to try his hand at them.

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They were easy tasks such as shoveling mulch, changing light bulbs, and aiding election offices.



But there was a catch: Only those who organizers thought worked hard enough got invited back.

The city sweetened the pot by offering participants a relatively generous $12 per hour and a free meal. The results were encouraging.

Over 284 people got to work for at least one day with 274 continuing on for longer periods.

Out of those, 110 managed to land full-time positions, most of them with private companies.

“What a refreshing idea to help tackle Denver’s homeless problem: Provide jobs with decent wages to those willing and able to work,” Mayor Michael Hancock originally said about the program.

However, Denver Day Works hasn’t been some magical solution. Only 57 of the participants managed to keep their jobs for longer than three months.



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Still, the program shows those down on their luck and struggling with various deep-seated problems that it’s not impossible to find a fiscal opportunity and keep it.

That was what 57-year-old Jeffrey Maes learned, the former owner of a remodeling business that landed him on the streets when it went belly up.

Maes managed to turn his labor with Denver Day Works into a position at the city’s Central Library branch. He credits it with helping restore his sense of purpose.

“When you take a good person [who’s] down, broken, discouraged, and you give them an opportunity to be proud of their self — to stand up and do something for their self — that’s one of the greatest gifts anybody can give to anybody,” he said. “And for that, I’d like to say thank you.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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