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Program Pays San Diego Homeless Minimum Wage For Trash Pickup

The inside of the Alpha Project’s East Village shelter is shown in this undated photo.
Megan Wood
The inside of the Alpha Project’s East Village shelter is shown in this undated photo.

UPDATE: 2:07 p.m., Feb 26, 2018.

Homeless people in the city of San Diego will be paid $11.50 an hour to pick up trash and clear brush as part of a program launched Monday.

People who are homeless with an interest in participating will be picked up by a van twice a week and driven to a specific site, where they will pick up trash, pull weeds and clear brush for five hours as part of the Alpha Project's "Wheels of Change" program, according to the city.


Staff will also help connect program participants to services such as housing resources.

The first six months of the program have been funded by a private donor whose name has not been made public.

"This is all about creating more opportunities for homeless individuals to lift themselves out of extreme poverty," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "'Wheels for Change' will help restore dignity by allowing people to earn a paycheck and begin to get back on their feet. For many, this may be just the chance they need to begin turning their lives around."

RELATED: San Diego Homeless People To Earn Minimum Wage Cleaning Trash, Graffiti

The San Diego program is based on one in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since the Albuquerque program launched in May 2015, 3,400 homeless people have removed 175,000 pounds of trash and cleaned 600 neighborhood blocks, and 365 participants were connected with employment services to find additional work.


Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Lexington, Kentucky, have similar programs.

"We are looking forward to starting this program and giving the clients the ability to make a difference in the local community," said Bob McElroy, chief executive of the Alpha Project.

Corrected: July 25, 2024 at 1:21 PM PDT
Editor's Note: Participants will be paid $11.50 an hour, not $10 as previously reported.