Moving America Forward

When San Jose’s Homeless Work to Clean Up Their Community, They Receive Food, Housing, and Even Jobs

July 22, 2014
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When San Jose’s Homeless Work to Clean Up Their Community, They Receive Food, Housing, and Even Jobs
The program — which keeps the streets clean while also getting people off of them — is a win-win for the California city.

Now this is an idea that can potentially transform communities.

In San Jose, California, the homeless are being hired to clean the city streets in exchange for food, housing and job placement, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

This program comes from a novel partnership between Groundwerx, a group that provides cleaning services to downtown San Jose, and the Downtown Streets Team, a nonprofit that works to combat homelessness in Silicon Valley. According to KTVU, this is a new initiative for the north California city and is being tested for a year.

MORE: This Innovative Program Found Housing for 200 Homeless Veterans in Just 100 Days

Everyone wins with this approach since it helps reduce the city’s litter while providing much-needed assistance to people who are down on their luck. Although the program only launched earlier this month, the Mercury News reports that it’s already seen its share of success stories. Participants such as Chester Shattuck, 53, who helped clean San Jose’s downtown, was finally able to find housing after being on the streets for four years.

Not only that, but participants are also learning all-important job skills, too. Former high school peer counselor Marcellous McDonald told the publication that thanks to the regularity of his job as a trash collector and working with others who also want to get back on track, he was able to find his footing and secure employment with Levi’s Stadium, which is home to the San Francisco 49ers football team.

It’s initiatives like these that prove those without homes need a second chance. “People can be iffy about the homeless, and we are here to show that we don’t want to be homeless anymore,” McDonald said. “I might have lost my way, but I am getting there. Some people are slow to get back at it, some people pick up right where they left off.”

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