Little Rock, Arkansas launches program that invests in the city’s homeless population

The program is a “day's work for a day's pay and access to resources that will help them get to the next step to create the life that they want."

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Homeless people of Little Rock are earning an income collecting litter from the city’s streets. The Bridge to Work program, which started in April 2019, pays $9.25 per hour and invests in the city’s homeless population.

The $80,000 pilot program has paid more than 400 people in the homeless community to pick up litter throughout Little Rock, WBUR reported. Bridge to Work is a three-day-a-week program broken into four-hour shifts with eight people working per shift, Arkansas Online reported. The program has clocked more than 1,800 hours.

Run by the Canvas Community Church, the program is a “day’s work for a day’s pay and access to resources that will help them get to the next step to create the life that they want,” Paul Atkins, a pastor at the church, said.

The program not only pays groups of homeless people accompanied by a supervisor to collect litter, pick weeds and clean up other various trash at assigned sites, but it also offers other resources such as free lunch, health treatment, mental health services, and legal advice.

“We want to work with them on their next step,” Atkins said to the board members. “There are a lot of barriers that our people experience to go from homelessness and panhandling to full-time work. There’s a lot of steps in between.”

The program has been labeled a success after a six-month trial that Mayor Frank Scott Jr. immediately extended the program until September 2020.

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Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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