City of Amarillo working on work for pay homeless program

City of Amarillo working on work for pay homeless program

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The homeless community in Amarillo may soon get a large boost from the city.

Finding a job is difficult enough for the average Joe, so imagine being a homeless person trying to do that.

Well, the city of Amarillo sees the need to help homeless people get on their feet, and they're offering some incentives.

The homeless population in Amarillo has been controversial over the past year, with many wanting to repeal an ordinance that prohibits people from camping on public property overnight.

But the city now believes a new pilot program may be a good answer to helping homeless people. They are modeling it after it proved a success in Albuquerque.

"A few months ago, I saw a news story about what Mayor Berry is doing in Albuquerque to help provide some jobs for some people that have been out looking for jobs and looking for help and so he's identified those people who were on the street corners asking for money and saying 'hey what about putting them to work?'," says Mayor Paul Harpole.

Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Starbuck is the one leading the city push. The program will offer multiple jobs cleaning up the city, as well as other resources to those who participate.

"Provide them a little bit of money, provide them a meal, and then most importantly connect them to those support services that are available in our community," says Starbuck.

The city has already spoken with a non-profit group to contract with, to give the homeless those resources. They hope to get the needy people tied to these resources and then possibly going into shelters where they can get some added help.

"You've got to think about what these people go through everyday," says Harpole. "They don't have a place to wash their face in the morning, they don't have a place to brush their teeth, they don't have a place to clean their clothes. It makes it nearly impossible for them to bridge that to getting a job."

The Amarillo program will be different than that of Albuquerque. Theirs was geared more toward panhandling, while Amarillo will be providing "proactive outreach."

This is of course, a pilot program, but officials are optimistic.

"If we see things that work well, or don't work well, we can make those adjustments and make that program as successful as possible," says Starbuck.

Mayor Harpole says the city hopes to officially start the program within the next 60 days.

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