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City of Mobile launching new program to pay the homeless to pick up litter

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - From litter on the street to the trash bin. The City of Mobile is trying a new way to get litter picked up and people working.

“We’re calling it Road to Work since they will be working on the road,” said Matt Armbruster, Random Ministries Executive Director.

The plan is to pay homeless Mobilians to pick up litter.

The pilot program is set to launch in August. Armbruster is the man with the plan. He hopes to see the program grow into an extension of the work they already do to help the homeless in our area.

“Our ultimate goal is not about the litter it’s about building relationships with them because they’re humans, just like we are, then we can give them the wrap-around services that the guy’s in our recycling programs such as the mental health and the health care,” he said.

When it launches in August it will start with five people with hopes of expanding. The program participants will be selected from Waterfront Rescue Mission and each will be paid $9 an hour.

“It may start with picking up trash, but also it’s going to start with mentoring, it’s going to start with people believing in them, a sense of belonging that they can actually accomplish something,” said Marcus Huseth, Operations Manager at Waterfront Rescue Mission.

While the program participants have not been identified yet, one Waterfront Rescue Mission client is excited about it.

“We should have had something like that already in place,” said Brad Swindle, a Waterfront Rescue Mission client. “It’s outstanding, it’s a wonderful idea and we need to get it going.”

The pilot program will run for 60 days and cost the city nearly $30,000 to test it out. The city believes it will be money well spent.

“This is a really inexpensive way to do job training, get litter cleaned up off of our streets to make an improvement in our community, and set folks up for success,” said Casi Callaway the City of Mobile Chief Resilience Officer.

If the program participants do well they could be hired on full-time by the city.

As of now, the trial is set to run in August and September.

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