Homeless day labor program proves successful after first 4 months

Homeless day labor program proves successful after first 4 months (Photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7). 

There is a program in Amarillo that is funded by the city to help the homeless. It has been operating for about four months now on leftover grant money from the city and they will potentially fund it moving forward.

It seems like a win/win by helping the homeless with temporary jobs and cleaning up the city's eyesores...

"I'm just here to do what it is I need to do to get back in a house or someplace I can call home," said Gerald Vaughan, homeless worker.

Vaughan is homeless due to his house burning down. Right now, he is working for the Hope program.

"It helps people on the street," said Vaughan. "That's the solution to homelessness: getting a place to live. Whatever it takes to get people off the street cause that's not a good place to be."

Through the Hope program, homeless workers go out and clean up various areas in the city. Each worker gets $9 an hour in cash. A group of six works the program Monday, Wednesday and Friday for six hours each day.

"It's an honest day's pay for an honest day's work," said Chris Seright, Amarillo Housing First. "The laborers are enjoying the work that they're doing, they're enjoying the fact that they're taking part in cleaning the city and they earn some cash at the end of the day. But the biggest benefit of the program is that we have social workers that visit with the laborers during their work day."

The homeless day labor program is run through Amarillo Housing First, so the organization aims at getting these workers set up with resources to obtain permanent housing.

The program has been operating for four months now and out of 77 workers, 13 of those are now in permanent housing.

As far as funding for the program goes, it is through the city.

So this first year of the program is a pilot phase. The city is funding close to $50,000 to cover to costs of the program for a year and will decide to fund it moving forward. The $50,000 is left over grant money.

And Vaughan says it is something he looks forward to.

"I like it here. I'm just trying to do what I can to help the neighborhood over here and whatever I need to do to try to find a job and get back on my feet," said Vaughan.

Another benefit to the program is that each worker gets a free meal. Several restaurants in the community have committed to donating meals to workers. They are asking any other restaurants who are interested in helping to contact Amarillo Housing First.

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