Homeless Encampment

Homeless Encampment (Photo credit: Matt Bigler/KCBS)

San Jose Will Pay Homeless People To Sweep Streets

Carrie Hodousek
October 26, 2018 - 10:05 am

SAN JOSE — San Jose will pay people living on the streets to help keep them clean in a program set to launch next month.

Transient people can earn $15 an hour in the pilot program, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced on Thursday. 

City officials called the new idea a win for the city's beautification efforts, and for those who need a helping hand.

“We are working to transform lives, transform our streetscapes, our neighborhoods, and to transform the narrative,” Liccardo said.

The program is limited in size and will employ about two dozen people on a part-time basis of up to 16 hours per week to hit 40 troublesome spots for litter and dumping. 

Trish Dorsey, vice president of Mission Services at Goodwill, one of the city’s partners, said she expects that number to grow.  

“If we can demonstrate—and we will—that this 25-people pilot is effective and puts people back to work and into housing, it’s going to grow way beyond 25 people,” she said.

The new recruits are not ready to do a full eight-hour day, Dorsey added, but look forward to building up to more hours.

San Jose, located at the heart of Silicon Valley, has suffered from the same housing crunch as the rest of the Bay Area. Earlier this year, it was named the least affordable metropolitan region in the country.

Gerald Cayson, who is homeless in San Jose, said the program is overdue, but gives him a chance to get back on his feet.

“It will give me a little bit to stand on as an individual, and you know, open up different opportunities and other doors along the way," he said. 

Some residents say much of the trash comes from homeless encampments, but Mayor Liccardo urged them to stop pointing fingers and work together.

“We’re going to change the narrative from dismissing our homeless residents as part of the problem,” Liccardo said, “to embracing the opportunity for them to be part of the solution.”

Written by Jordan Bowen.