From Homeless to Employed, Denver Residents Get An Amazing Second Chance
Most large cities host a population of people who are experiencing homelessness, whether in short- or long-term ways. And all of those cities are looking for ways to help those folks gain the footing that they need to move out of homelessness and into a more secure arrangement. Now, a program that's being piloted in a few cities shows great promise in terms of helping connect people living in homelessness with steady jobs.
Between November 2016 and November 2017, the Denver Day Works program employed 284 people experiencing homelessness in various city jobs: doing landscaping in parks, helping on election days, and aiding public-works crews on job assignments. Workers who jump in on such jobs are paid more than $12 per hour and receive some additional support services.
Run by a local contractor, Denver Day Works offers three work shifts per week and is planning to expand to a fourth and fifth shift each week sometime this year.
That's because the program is showing signs of success.
Of the 284 people who participated in 2017, 110 found full-time work afterwards. And Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says that this shows that "people experiencing homelessness are no different" from other city residents. They are hungry for the opportunity to work hard to achieve their personal dreams and to take their self-sufficiency in their own hands."
One participant in the program echoed this sentiment. 57-year old Jeffrey Maes says: "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."