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San Diego homeless residents paid to keep encampments clean

Homeless camps in downtown San Diego, March 14, 2014
Nicholas McVicker
People experiencing homelessness and their belongings in downtown San Diego, Calif. are shown in this photo taken March 14, 2014.

Homeless residents of downtown San Diego encampments will be paid to pick up trash in their neighborhood as part of a new pilot program.

The program was launched by retired attorney Brian Trotier, who for years has been handing out food to people in need as a volunteer with a local nonprofit, the San Diego Union Tribune reported Sunday.

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Trotier said he noticed that there were few trash cans in the area, so he contacted the waste disposal company EDCO, who agreed to set up a bin twice a week. People are paid $2 for every trash bag they bring.

The nonprofit, the Lucky Duck Foundation, agreed to provide $20,000 to fund the program over four months.

Executive Director Drew Moser said the program gives residents an opportunity to contribute to cleaning their neighborhood. He added that the organization also advocates for more immediate strategies such as shelters to move people off the street.

Israel Garcia, who lives in a downtown encampment, said while it's not a lot of money, it's enough for a bus fare to the Social Security office and to get other resources.

“Sometimes it takes something as little as a few dollars to help us each day," said Garcia.