California officials are offering money to homeless residents who can keep the areas where they live clean as part of a pilot program to reduce the amount of trash seen near homeless encampments.
The pilot program is showing signs of success after Elk Grove responded to complaints from residents about the trash problem in the region.
Homelessness and Cleanliness
“We got together to talk about homelessness, and from my perspective, I wanted to build better relationships with people who were experiencing homelessness, and he wanted to address some of the complaints that come to his officers,” said Housing and Public Services Manager Sarah Bontrager.
“We distribute trash bags, and we go out every two weeks to pick up the trash, and if they have it bagged, they are eligible for up to $20 in gift cards to a grocery store,” Bontrager said about the program that aimed to incentivize cleanliness.
The homeless residents can use the gift cards for any product except cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Bontrager said the program created a good relationship between officials and the homeless population. Because of the program, some participants were able to afford housing. Others were grateful they did not have to rely on shelters or other groups as much.
The pilot program also reduced the city’s financial costs in keeping the cleanliness. Officials said only $10,000 of their $15,000 budget has been spent. Bontrager said that each time a cleaning crew is sent to an area, they cost about $1,000, FOX23 reported.