Homeless could be paid to pick up trash in more cities

Other cities have done it, and now, if a bill passes, three in Washington state could be next.

Sponsored by state Sen. Hans Zeiger, Senate Bill 5261 would create a three-year, three-city pilot program that would provide homeless adults with jobs on community "beautification and cleanup projects" – such as picking up trash and pulling weeds in parks.

Two pilot cities would be in western Washington, and one would be on the east side of the state.

The idea is not new.

Fort Worth, Texas, has a Clean Slate program in which the homeless are paid to pick up trash.

San Jose, California, announced a similar program late last year.

The bill report says other cities with such programs include Albuquerque, Boise, Denver, Dallas, Omaha and Anaheim. Job duties such as laying sod, tidying up grounds at local dumps and picking up trash were given as examples.

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In Zeiger's program, workers would be paid at least the state minimum wage – $12 an hour – and be referred to housing providers and other services to help get them off the street.

The pilot would expire in July 2022.

The pilot cities would then be required to submit a report to the state legislature on how many people were hired during the pilot and how many were connected with services – as well as strategies for hiring homeless people.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington state has a homeless population of more than 21,000.

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