The homelessness situation in America is severe, sad and getting worse. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there are over 554,000 homeless people in America, and in major cities, especially on the West Coast, the problem is very severe.
Tent cities and major homeless camps are now a normal feature in many American cities, and when ordinary Americans try to help out, they are often stopped by law enforcement agencies who’ve been arresting citizens and members of churches and charity organizations who feed the homeless in public spaces.
So what can be done? It’s unlikely that housing prices will fall enough to allow more people to afford housing. It’s unlikely that the opioid epidemic will end itself over night. It’s unlikely that the criminal justice system will all of a sudden stop turning normal people who choose to possess and consume a plant into felons who aren’t allowed to get work or decent housing. It’s unlikely that the endless wars will finally end and our soldiers stop coming back from PTSD causing deployments.
We have to help other people, and the charitable organization, ‘A Better Way Detroit‘ is doing just this by paying local homeless people ten dollars an hour to clean up the city and empowering them to participate in the betterment of the community. The project is funded in part by donations raised in charity from members of the church and surrounding community, and the idea is giving new hope to members of this Detroit community.
The money the men are getting paid isn’t coming from someone’s bank account or a governmental program. It’s coming from donations sent to the Better WAY Detroit initiative, which is hosted out of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Designed to help put a little cash in the pockets of the homeless, it uses the honest-work-for-honest-pay code, and cleans up the city in the process. [Source]
The program is the brain child of Father Marko Djonovic of the Midtown parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, whose finding the endeavour to be incredibly inspiring and enriching.
A few times a week, Djonovic drives his large white suburban truck to shelters and sites where he knows homeless people sleep. Each time, different people are given the opportunity to help clean up a part of the city and get $10 an hour for their work. While the initiative started as a way to clean up Detroit’s public parks, it has evolved into a system of beautifying some of the city’s blighted neighborhoods.
On March 14, it was an empty house’s backyard that’s been the site of illegal dumping, overgrown with dead wood and weeds. [Source]
The homeless people involved agree that the project is exceptional and of great benefit to them in such difficult situations, and the project is working closely with the city parks organization to help improve public parks so that more people and children will spend time outside.
“Work is good. Everybody likes money, so what’s wrong with a little work… Take negative situations and turn them into positive situations. This is a positive situation. We’re earning money without panhandling. Instead of standing on the freeway begging people for change, we’re earning something.” ~Winfield Jackson, homeless
Here is a video of Father Djonovic talking about the project and the impact it is having on the city. He also notes here that the project is fiscally unsustainable at present, given that it relies on charity and on his own personal contributions, and that financial help is needed to keep it going and to help it grow. You can contribute to the project, here.
It’s not hard to think up creative ways in which people can help each other out in this world instead participating in strife and the divide and conquer mentality.