HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In Albuquerque, NM, a van driver offers homeless people $9 an hour to work for a day. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry started the campaign called 'A Better Way.'
"I just happened to see a gentleman holding a sign one day that said, 'I need a job.' I said, 'Okay, I'm going to take you up on it. Our city needs some trash picked up. Our city needs some weeds pulled," Berry said.
Now Hawaii lawmakers want the state to fund a Work for a Day pilot program in Honolulu.
"So if we replicate that and basically go around and figure out who these people are and offer them the opportunity to work for a day to earn a few bucks, to get some services and good meal and a shower, I can't see that as anything but a blessing for everybody involved, " Rep. Chris Lee said.
"Yeah, I would work," a homeless man named Tupu said outside his tent off Ala Moana Boulevard."Better is the word, right? You work for your money you feel better. You feel good."
"I'd say yes I would work cleaning or whatever. I can work," another homeless man named Bobby said.
Next Step Shelter puts homeless to work in it's job training program. Work for a Day would be a bigger operation state lawmakers want the city to run.
"We want to be able to learn more. We want to learn from other cities across the nation on what innovative projects they have, and see if we can translate it for here in Honolulu.
Albuquerque's program connects the down and out to shelter and services. Since September A Better Way has gotten 20 homeless people into permanent jobs and five into permanent housing.
"And we've cleaned 96 city blocks and 41,000 pounds of trash and debris have been cleaned up," Berry said. Honolulu's homeless count is a lot higher than Albuquerque's.
"How do I make money now? I collect cans, beer bottles, whatever," Tupu said.
Albuquerque's effort is getting national attention, including inquiries from our state.