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City Program Provides Dignity and Jobs to the Homeless

“There’s a Better Way” program is a critical resource while enforcement of the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance is on hold

June 29, 2018

The City of Albuquerque continues to take a proactive approach to provide support to people experiencing homelessness and panhandlers in the City. The City’s “There’s A Better Way” program has provided 6,666 jobs since it started in September of 2015. One of the greatest accomplishments of this program is that it has helped provide people with dignity and pride in a day’s work.

The program is an especially important resource during this time, as the City is not enforcing the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance that prohibits using or occupying the space on certain medians, near highway ramps and in other locations.  As announced earlier this year, the City has been sued regarding the constitutionality of the Ordinance. The Albuquerque Police Department will not enforce the Ordinance until the federal court makes a decision. APD has instructed all officers not to issue citations under the Ordinance. Officers will not be dispatched in response to 911 calls regarding violations of the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance.

“This program gives people experiencing homelessness an opportunity to create change in their lives, while giving caring members of our community a way to donate their resources to help people in need,” stated Mayor Tim Keller.  “This is just part of the spectrum of services we need to provide for folks dealing with homelessness.”

Funded by the City of Albuquerque’s Family and Community Services Department and supported by the City of Albuquerque’s Solid Waste Management Department, the “There’s a Better Way” program continues to give people an opportunity to earn an equitable daily wage, connect individuals with support services, and provide homeless citizens an opportunity for employment instead of panhandling. The program also educates Albuquerque citizens on alternative options for supporting the unsheltered residents in our community.

In partnership with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the program transports individuals to a City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Management Department job site five days a week. The ten person crews have proven reliable and effective and work hard to beautify the City through cleaning up litter and pulling weeds. Since 2015, the crews have cleaned 894 City blocks and collected 256,741 pounds of waste. At the end of the workday, the workers receive their pay from St. Martin’s and can get connected with other resources based on their needs.

In addition to the incredible beautification happening throughout the City, the program has seen a variety of accomplishments:

  • 1,575 unduplicated people have worked in this program
  • 422 workers have pursued permanent employment information from St. Martin’s employment services
  • 76 of those workers have gained permanent employment positions
  • 355 have received mental health and/or substance abuse services
  • 21 households have been placed into stable housing