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Internationally Recognized ABQ Program Grows in Light of Success

"There's a Better Way" van program expands to four days a week

March 30, 2016

Albuquerque, NM- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry announced an expansion of the There’s a Better Way van program in his proposed FY17 budget. In light of the van program’s success over the seven months of operation, the program will now have an additional two days a week to offer panhandlers an opportunity for a day’s work.

Mayor Berry launched the There’s a Better Way campaign in May 2015, with  the goal to give panhandlers a chance at a change in their lives and a way to provide caring members of our community with a better way to donate their money. At multiple locations around the city, signs were posted to encourage panhandlers to dial 311 for support from local service providers. The signs also encouraged community members to donate money to DONATEabq.org, where their money could be combined with other donations to have a more meaningful impact on a panhandler’s life.

Within months of its initial launch, Mayor Berry unveiled the There’s a Better Way Van that circulates throughout the city two days a week to offer panhandlers a job for the day. In partnership with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the van transports individuals to a job site under the supervision of the City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Department, to do work such as landscape beautification in designated areas to earn a day’s pay. At the end of the workday, the workers receive their pay from St. Martin’s and can get connected with other resources as needed or available.

To date, the program has seen many great statistics:

  • Over 7,300 people have been connected to services they may not have known about previously.
  • $8,863 has been donated to United Way of Central New Mexico to be distributed to community service providers
  • 527 day jobs have been offered through There’s a Better Way Van. From those workers several accepted other forms of assistance:
    • 34 people were connected to permanent employment
    • 84 people have been connected with behavioral health and substance abuse services
    • 8 people have been placed in housing
  • 5 City Blocks have been cleaned through this program with over 49,300 pounds of trash and debris cleared

Since its inception, other cities, states, and countries have reached out to Mayor Berry’s office to see how the program can be adapted in their community. Most recently, in the county of Honolulu, Hawaii is working on legislation (HB2647 HD2 SD1)  to adopt a program modeled after Albuquerque’s There’s a Better Way to provide panhandlers temporary work. International and national press on the program has spread rapidly with features on the Korean Broadcasting System, NBC Nightly News, PBS Newshour, NY Times, Governing Magazine, and viral success with cumulative 9.5 million views on Upworthy.com video highlighting the program.

 

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For more information on the program please visit DONATEabq.org or watch this video: https://vimeo.com/146947306