Denver, CO (TFC) – The election of a Republican President hasn’t seemed to slowed the thump of progressive policies. In Denver, officials are initiating a program aimed at providing thousands of paying jobs to the homeless. This plan which includes a variety of work is launching as similar projects crop up elsewhere.
Initiated on November 1st, “Denver Day Works” hopes to put thousands of the city’s homeless to work. According to Denverite, many assignments include park maintenance, planting trees, clearing snow, etc. Denver Human Services Spokeswoman Julie Smith says they’re aiming for “low to no barriers. No background checks. Do you want work? We’re going to put you to work today.”
The program hopes to draw close to 300 candidates and keep at least half for regular work. Ultimately, participation may lead to a more structured life and future employment opportunities. Pay is provided at the end of the day, with most wages starting at $12.59 an hour. The flexible program offers either half or full days of work. Similar to a paid internship, however, participants may only earn a maximum of $600.
By maintaining this limit, Denverite reports, the program hopes to connect participants with more jobs, while avoiding filing with the IRS. Not only that, but the program isn’t expected to take hours away from city staffers, and others who do such work. Around $400,000 has been allocated for the first year of Denver Day Works. Whereas $100,000 will pay for worker wages, the rest will reward supervisors and other oversight.
The city recently released a statement regarding financing the program and related details. Though encouraging, the city stresses that it’s a pilot program, and may not necessarily see expansion. Other independent initiatives also exist, like a cafe employing homeless youth.
Purple Door Coffee was founded two years ago by Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud. According to Huffington Post, the shop offers employment for a year to homeless youth who want to move on. Not only is work provided, but skills such as dealing with mental and emotional stress, budgeting, and banking are taught as well. Smesrud prides the organization’s stance that all humans have “incredible value.” “It’s not defined by their successes or their failures”, he asserts, “but the fact that they’re human.”
The cafe’s philosophy is rooted in the idea that people deserve a fair chance, and respect. “No matter what they’ve done”, assures Smesrud, “or haven’t done.” Not only is Denver’s homelessness on the rise, but tensions are building within the city. Recently, a large street community was warned to leave, or be cleared by the city. In addition, a non-profit offering care to young homeless adults has experienced a 153% clientele spike.
Such programs can’t exist without their founders first empathizing with others. It’s an ability, unfortunately, which varies from person to person. Simply put, some people just don’t care about what happens to others. Not only that, but they are generally disinterested in these qualities in their leadership. That’s why stories like Purple Door Coffee’s, or Denver Day Works, may allude to an optimistic future. A future, however, that’s going to require people to come to the realization that the power to help others as well as themselves lies within.