The Denver Day Works program provides employment for homeless people with a difficult history and a chance for them to build a new one.
In November 2016, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock introduced a plan to put homeless people into menial day jobs with no regard for their resumes, experience, or criminal background. Anyone could participate, and those who worked hard were invited to work another day. Success in small, temporary jobs set the stage for easing into more permanent work.
Being faithful with little earned workers the reward of being able to show they could be faithful with a little more: A year later, 110 participants have moved on to full-time work. And about half of them were still employed after 90 days.
Those in the program work mainly in the city’s parks and public works departments. They plant trees and haul mulch. Some have worked to change old lighting to LEDs at the Denver Public Library. Others have helped out at the city election offices. All made more than $12 an hour—well above Colorado’s minimum wage of $8.31. The bonus was occasional free food, donated by area restaurants.
As the The Denver Post observed, one of the best ways of beating poverty is making money.
Hancock said the Denver Day Works program exceeded goals and will expand in 2018. His budget for this year is $696,300. About half pays the contractor, Bayaud Enterprises, which organizes work crews in shifts three days a week and helps get workers into housing and connected to public services.
This year the city wants to offer more varied work and include more minority, female, and disabled people.
Regina Pizarro, 46, started in the day-labor program and now works permanently in customer service at a call center.
“It didn’t matter whether I was shoveling mulch, working at Denver Votes—it didn’t matter what I was doing, because I had a job,” she told the Post.
Pizarro underscored the importance of the Bayaud supervisors and their effect on her: “They have a lot of compassion and understanding. They don’t look down on us because we’ve been on the streets.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/monstArrr_
Publication date: January 29, 2018