Dallas to Start Providing Work to the City’s Homeless

According to the Dallas Observer, the city is looking to respond to panhandling the same way that Albuquerque, New Mexico has addressed the issue for over a year now. The simple solution is to offer work to those ready to accept it. There are no ID requirements for work or any other conditions, beyond the willingness to work. The process is quite simple; a city van drives around town and offers work to the homeless and panhandlers. They can accept or decline the offer. At the end of the work day, usually five or six hours, the men and women are paid in cash. The recommended amount right currently is a little over $10 per hour.

I am sure there are reasons to critique this system but I’ll leave that to others. In my opinion, there is nothing more uplifting to a man than to put in an honest day’s work and get rewarded for it with some good old hard cash. Work provides dignity. Work provides character building. Work is paid education. When people work they learn discipline, customer service and good business practices. They learn about honesty, time management and communication. Earning an income provides the opportunity for building financial life skills such as budgeting and saving.

Another aspect of this program that I think is very well thought out is that the option is left up to those being asked. No one is forcing this program onto them. I believe that by giving the choice to work or not work, the men and women who are really looking for a life change will accept the work. The more often they work, the more likely it is that they will get past whatever life event put them on the streets. If the reports are correct, more than 100 of those who accepted the work in New Mexico over the last year have gone on to find permanent employment elsewhere. That’s 100 lives that are potentially changed forever because they were given a hand-up and not a hand-out.