It is no secret that Kalamazoo has a number of homeless/transient citizens. Last summer between 60-100 homeless protesters camped out at the downtown Bronson Park, located behind the Kalamazoo County Courthouse, for about a month. That protest that was in response to the Kalamazoo City Commission considering several changes to their park rules that some criticized as being insensitive to the homeless.

While the number of homeless decreased, the encampment only moved. A second encampment sprung up on the corner of Pitcher and Ransom streets soon after the winter warming centers closed. In both encampment instances, the clean-up was costly. Both areas were littered with debris and garbage.

While simply passing laws, codes and regulations has seemingly done little to solve the growing homeless issue, it seems one city in the state of Arkansas has started a program that looks to be promising. Instead of laws that make life more difficult for their homeless population, Little Rock, Arkansas is putting them to work. Homeless people in Little Rock are getting paid minimum wage to pick up trash as part of a trial program being rolled out in the state seeking to help people transition from being homeless. Those participating in the program can work up to fours hours each day and up to three days per week.

The program is not a handout. Those that participate are paid for the hours they work with the goal helping them transition into stable housing and employment.

What if the funding used to by the city for passing laws and ordinances, police and enforcing as well as cleanup costs was diverted to a program that pays the homeless to get back on their feet?

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