4. Olympia CARE Program
C.A.R.E stands for Community Assistance Reaching Employment. Across the country, there are numerous successful low-barrier day labor programs sponsored by city/county partnerships with a local non-profit. Albuquerque has done wonders with its A Better Way program, as has San Diego’s Wheels of Change, and cities like Stockton and Fort Worth. Communities get cleaned, people re-enter the labor force, and taxpayers are generally supportive of expenditures that show results. I would propose Olympia provide such a program, possibly in partnership with Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County.
Supportive services and assistance can help eliminate common barriers that prevent many homeless people from working such as transportation, access to certification, storage of personal items and hygiene facilities. Some of these programs focus solely on day labor, as a means to reduce panhandling. Other programs use the on-the-spot day labor program to advance people into partnerships with local employers and permanent jobs.
I propose a hybrid which offers day labor opportunities with low barriers, while also linking laborers with services to help them . Additionally, I would support installation of signs at our 50 most frequently panhandled locations to encourage citizens to give to local charities rather than panhandlers. These locations are also where outreach vans typically go to offer day labor opportunities. Another possibility would be to provide bonuses to laborers who agree to put 75% of their earnings in trust with the city’s non-profit partner to save. Incentivizing a savings program could help participants build up a nest egg to get out of the cycle of homelessness.
Albuquerque’s A Better Way program:
Cost: $50,000 per year, an old van, and a great partner.
117,000 pounds of garbage cleaned up
1575 individuals have participated
422 pursued permanent employment
76 transitioned to permanent employment
21 people transitioned to supportive housing
355 people connected to mental health and substance abuse services