- Arkansas pay homeless $9.25 an hour to clean up the city
- Over 2,056 bags of trash collected
- 130 sites cleaned around the city
As we know, the unexpected arrival of the pandemic put an overnight halt on many businesses all over the country and left millions of Americans out of work. Columbia University economics professor Dr. Brendan O’Flaherty recently did a study on the homelessness in the United States and stated that it could grow as much as 45% by the end of the year. That would mean annually, an additional 250,000 people could be without shelter. The unemployment rate within the U.S. has reached 14.7%, a level that hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. O’Flaherty went on to say in an interview:
“This is unprecedented….No one living has seen an increase of 10% of unemployment in a month.”
In Arkansas city, the number of homeless reported in 2018 was approximately 2280 including 240 unaccompanied youth. State and local charities have been working hard to create jobs for the homeless. Instead of waiting to see their homeless rates rise due to the pandemic and businesses closing, they decided to take preemptive measures.
Little Rock Arkansas has set an amazing example for community solutions to the homeless problem. In April 2020, the Bridge to Work program began paying homeless people $9.25 per hour to pick up trash. Canvas Community Church in Little Rock has been overseeing much of this project since it’s been established. The homeless participants have found a sense of community, pride and hope. The program has given them a paycheck as well as mental and physical health services, job interviews and even temporary housing.
Pastor Paul Atkins of the Canvas Community Church said:
“380 people have joined the work crews, some more than once. The teams work in groups of eight. Most sign up through the church, but each team leaves a space open in case a panhandler it encounters on its route wants to join.”
So far, this community effort has left a total of 130 sites cleaned, 1,821 hours worked, and 2,056 bags of trash collected. A team overseer, Felecia Cooks, in the Bridge program was not convinced it would be as successful as it has been. Cooks stated:
“This is just a dream come true for the entire community,”
City Council members were thankful for the turnout and the results from Bridge to Work’s first five months, with one city council member calling the program a “win-win.”
10 Things You Can Do To Help The Homeless In Your Area
Shared Via RippleKindness
- Respect the homeless as individuals
Give homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.
- Respond with kindness
We can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless when we respond to them, rather than ignore or dismiss them. Try a kind word and a smile.
- Develop lists of shelters
Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your phone book.
- Bring food
It’s as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.
- Give money
One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to non-profit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.
- Donate clothing
Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good condition, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.
- Donate a bag of groceries
Load up a bag full of non-perishable groceries and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn’t have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like.
- Volunteer at a shelter
Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Soup kitchens provide one of the basics of life, nourishing meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged members of the community. Volunteers generally do much of the work, including picking up donations of food, preparing meals, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. To volunteer your services, contact your local soup kitchen, mobile food program, shelter, or religious center.
Get involved in your local community. Help agencies in your area whose policy and initiatives support the goal of ending homelessness.
Check out this video below to see how you can help those affected by poverty and homelessness in your area:
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