Denver to Hire Hundreds of Homeless People to Work for the City

Source: Collective Evolution

By Alanna Ketler

Over the next year, the city of Denver, Colorado will try something new. While some people will consider this outrageous, others will wonder why we’ve never tried this before: the city will make paying jobs available to the hundreds of homeless people without jobs.

The Denver Day Works Programstarted November 1st and is expected to run until next October. The program will offer day-by-day jobs to the people who are currently living on the streets. The work will be for the city and will include park maintenance, planting trees, and clearing snow.

Spokesperson for Denver Human Services, Julie Smith said: “We want it to be low to no barriers. No background checks. Do you want to work? We’re going to put you to work today.”

“The goal is to engage about 300 people,” said Jenna Espinoza, spokesperson for the Mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock. The city is hoping that about half of those people will participate regularly and that eventually some of those people will move on to more permanent long-term jobs with the city of Denver, or elsewhere.

This is just a test run, so it may not work out, but it also may turn into something much, much bigger and encourage other cities to follow suit! The participants will be paid a starting wage of $12.59 an hour, which is actually quite a generous hourly wage. Participants can choose between a half a day and a full day of work.

The program will only allow each person to earn a maximum of $600. After participants reach that number through the program, they will hopefully be connected with more permanent jobs through Bayaud, which includes work in the private sector or for the city. This should keep the participants from having to file with the IRS.

Executive director of Bayaud Enterprises, David Henninger, says “It’s a stepping stone.”

Participants will be provided with all equipment that they might need, including gloves, eye and ear protection, and will also be provided with lunch. KeyBank will also provide help with financial planning for those who require it.

A participant in the program, Danny Tims, says the project is “Off the chain. It’s super, I’m very happy.” Danny learned about the project about a week ago and was planting trees for over $12 an hour, noting that that’s fairly high above minimum wage.

The work that will be made available to the homeless population of Denver is currently being done by full-time workers for the city, or volunteers; no one currently working in these positions will lose hours or wages.

“It’s creating new work – it’s not like we’re getting rid of our city employees to bring on these folks,” said Espinoza.

The city of Denver has budgeted about $400,000 for the first year of the Day Works program. An estimated $100,000 of that will go toward the wages for participants involved and the rest will pay for the supervisors and other overhead, according to Henninger.

“This is basically built on the premise of supported employment,” Smith said. “You need more than just a place to work. You need supervisors and managers that understand what it is you’re going through, and you need case-management services to get connected to other types of programs.”

City officials are hopeful that this could help with the homelessness problem in Denver. Not only can it encourage them to get up everyday and be contributing members to society, but it could eventually lead to them being able to rent out a place, get off the streets, and be able to provide for themselves.

Prior Success With Employing The Homeless

Albuquerque, New Mexico started a very similar program last year and has already noted some major improvements in the city’s homeless population. This program is called “There’s A Better Way,” and started with a van dispatched around the city to pick up panhandlers who are interested in working. This program pays $9 an hour, which is again, above minimum wage, along with lunch, and at the end of the shift shelter is offered as well.

In just over a year since it began, the program has given out 932 jobs and cleared 69,601 pounds of litter and weeds from 196 city blocks. More than 100 people from the program have also been connected to permanent employment.

“You can just see the spiral they’ve been on to end up on the corner. Sometimes it takes a little catalyst in their lives to stop the downward spiral, to let them catch their breath, and it’s remarkable,” Albuquerque Mayor, Richard Berry said in an interview.“They’ve had the dignity of work for a day; someone believed in them today.”

Projects like these will help to break the social stigma that people who are panhandling or begging for money are either drug addicts or too lazy to work. Most panhandlers who were approached in Albuquerque with the offer to work were extremely eager for the opportunity to actually earn some money. According to Berry, they just needed a helping hand. One man told him no one had said a kind word to him in 25 years.

Hopefully, this initiative to help the homeless get back on their feet instead of shaming them and arresting them for trying to make a few dollars will inspire other cities around the country to do the same thing! It has proven to be an extremely effective way to help the homeless get a fresh start in life and contribute to their cities!

Much Love

 

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Education Exodus: Students are Fleeing the U.S. for Free Higher Education Abroad

Source: Wake Up World

By Carolanne Wright

“Rising student-loan debt is an economic emergency. Forty million people are dealing with $1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt. It’s stopping young people from buying homes, from buying cars and from starting small businesses. We need to take action.” ~ Senator Elizabeth Warren

There’s a mass migration happening in the U.S. — one where students are moving to greener educational pastures abroad. Take Hunter Newsome. At the last minute, he chose to ditch an opportunity to study at the University of California, Davis and instead headed off to Estonia to earn his bachelors. He saves more than $10K per year in tuition, and will finish his degree in three years instead of four. Chelsea Workman is another student fed up with the cost of education in America. She left Ohio State University in the middle of her sophomore year to complete her degree in Germany — where education is free, even for foreigners. And Germany isn’t unique with its free education system; over 44 countries offer it as well, including Argentina, Denmark, Slovenia, Greece, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Uruguay, Scotland and Turkey.

This all begs the question: Why are Americans saddled with such astronomically high student debt when other countries seem to manage without it?

The Role Colleges and Politicians Play in the Rising Tide of Student Debt

Since 1985, the cost of higher education has surged more that 500 percent in the United States. To put this in perspective, a $10,000 education in 1985 would cost over $50,000 today. And it’s not simply because of inflation. A landmark study in 2015 found that flooding money into higher education by the federal government triggered an increase in tuition and fees — around 65 cents for every dollar of new subsidized loans. In short, colleges and universities that have a large number of average students raise their tuition so they can take advantage of as much of the new federal money as possible. “This means that a significant portion of the $1.3 trillion in student debt can be attributed to tuition inflation pushed along by the flood of student loan money in recent years,” said Chuck DeVore of Forbes.

Additionally, vocational and career training in high school — classes like auto shop, wood shop, metal shop, home economics and business accounting — have significantly declined since the 1980s. Over the course of two decades, parents and politicians alike began to expect every student would go to college — instead of developing vocational skills, where they would be employable straight out of high school. Part of this shift involves advancements in technology. Students can no longer learn on an old junker in auto shop because cars are increasingly sophisticated with computerized elements. Gone are the days of learning to type on hearty manual typewriters as well — computers with expensive hardware and software are the norm now. With this new era of technology, schools cannot keep up with the price tag.

Another aspect that’s influencing rising student debt is the expectation of loan forgiveness. In 2010, President Obama introduced legislation that made new borrowers eligible for student loan forgiveness after 20 years of payment. Due to human nature, if students believe they may not be ultimately held accountable for their debt, they will borrow more.

We can see why student loan debt is off the charts, but where does this leave us as a nation? And some may ask if a completely state funded higher educational system would work in the United States, as it does for other countries. Bernie Sanders promoted the idea of tuition-free public colleges and universities throughout his presidential campaign, believing it would cultivate the best-educated workforce in the world. However, critics are quick to say that the top three most college educated countries (South Korea, Japan and Canada) all charge tuition. Moreover, they point out the dreadful state of our public K-12 school system, in comparison to private schools, where the latter are thriving. We would also have to contend with a much higher tax rate to fund tuition-free colleges. A better option might be to work with the system already in place.

Possible Solutions

One of the main disadvantages of student loans in the U.S. is that the interest rate cannot be refinanced to gain a competitive rate, like with home and business loans. Senator Warren feels we should tackle the current rules about interest on these loans so there’s greater flexibility.

“I’ve proposed that we reduce the interest rate on the outstanding loan debt to the same rate Republicans and Democrats came together last year to set on new loans [3.86 percent]. For millions of borrowers, that would cut interest rates in half or more.”

She also thinks schools should be held accountable if they have a high student loan default rate, where they would have to pay back a portion of the federal student aid given to the university.

We can also look toward countries like Australia, where tuition is based on potential earnings for a particular degree or area of study. Additionally, Australian students only have to repay their loans once they’ve reached an earning threshold (over $39,000). After that point, they pay 4 percent of their yearly income. The payments are also collected automatically with income taxes, thereby reducing the risk of loan default and hefty fines.

A somewhat less glamorous solution involves skipping traditional university altogether and heading for a vocational school at a fraction of the cost. Or how about cobbling together a degree through online classes from some of the world’s best universities like Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley and Harvard? Coursera, edX and Udacity offer a range of courses for little or no cost.

In the end, it ultimately comes down to us as individuals. We need to think outside the box a bit, question our conditioning about university in general and find creative avenues to avoid the student loan trap altogether.

Article sources:

About the author:

Carolanne WrightCarolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.

Through her website Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. You can also follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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