Lifestyle & Human Interest

Homeless Could Soon Be Paid Minimum Wage for Picking Up Litter


The city of Little Rock, Arkansas, and a local church are partnering together to provide income and employment for homeless people in the area.

The pilot program, “A Bridge to Work,” is set to begin in April and will run for six months, at which time church and city staff members will evaluate the program and decide whether or not to continue.

Canvas Community Church has hired two program supervisors who will earn $11 dollars an hour to pick up homeless people in a city-owned van and transport them to various work sites in Little Rock.

Work will include city beautification, like picking up trash, yard work and planting trees.

According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, approximately 8-10 homeless people will be employed three days a week for four hours a day, earning $9.25 per hour, the minimum wage in Little Rock.

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Participants will eat lunch together and will be paid at the end of each workday.

The City of Arkansas passed an ordinance which will grant $80,000 from the public works budget to Canvas Community Church to operate the program.

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While the number of homeless people to be employed is small for now, church officials hope the program will grow and expand, providing stable employment and income to help pull people out of homelessness.

“The big idea is to give folks who are experiencing homelessness an opportunity to day labor,” associate pastor Paul Atkins told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

“The long-term thing is to develop the relationships and services that will help them meet whatever goals they have for themselves — long-term work, housing, education.”

Helping people out of homelessness is a complicated issue, and Canvas Community Church members believe that authentic relationships play a key role in moving people out of homelessness and into programs that can guide people toward self-sufficiency.

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“The typical knee-jerk reaction is, ‘why don’t they just get a job?'” Atkins said.

“Well, there’s lots of reasons why — and that’s why we need to form these relationships in order to connect them to services that will help them overcome.”

CORRECTION, April 2, 2019: As originally published, this article stated that individuals would be paid $9.25 per day instead of per hour. We have corrected the article accordingly and apologize for the error.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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