Editor’s Note 2020: This program has faced some difficulties. The finding is that after its first year contractors begin using the same people for day-work, as opposed to the arguable more difficult but fair, mandated employment rotation schedule. And, some issues of money being pocketed from the $50.00 per-person dailey stipend have been brought up. As of this writing the contract to continue this program was still out to bid but its basic assumption about the dignity of work, of course, still holds true.
In May 2015, Mayor Richard J. Berry launched the There’s a Better Way campaign to give panhandlers a chance at a change in their lives and a way to provide caring members of our community with a better way to donate their money.
Within months of its initial launch, Mayor Berry unveiled the There’s a Better Way Van to circulate throughout the city and offer panhandlers a job for the day. In partnership with HopeWorks, the van transports individuals to a job site under the supervision of the City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Department, to do work such as landscape beautification in designated areas to earn a day’s pay. At the end of the workday, the workers receive their pay from HopeWorks and are offered other resources as needed or available.
Albuquerque’s approach, like that of the Salvation Army, addresses the human dignity of work especially for those who are homeless or marginalized.
Any long term answer to homelessness involves work, particularly when it signals, daily, a job well done.
Programs such as a Better Way coupled with a vibrant and productive economy can go along way in dealing with both the self induced and market forces involved in an increasing homelessness population state wide.
Innovation in homelessness, housing and work must not be held hostage to the “progressive” worldview that holds people as animals either to be treated as beast of burden, having 50% or more of their income be appropriated or as welfare “pets” having the ability to work but forced by life choices or circumstance to be remain idle.
Work (for those who can) brings lasting dignity and possible recovery, and this state and nation has plenty of areas where such a program would be a blessing to all involved.