BY: JESSICA BEUKER
An innovative program is changing the way we see the homeless—particularly the idea that unemployment is a matter of personal choice. A Winnipeg-based program called Mission: Off the Streets (MOST), is giving homeless people the opportunities that they cannot find anywhere else.
MOST hires homeless people to clean up the city’s streets for $11/hour, which is 30 cents above Manitoba’s minimum wage, according to Notable. The program is open to those staying at Siloam Mission Shelter. Those who sign up are organized into teams of eight, who then go out to pick up garbage, shovel snow, and do street maintenance.
MOST hires homeless people to clean up the city’s streets for $11/hour, which is 30 cents above Manitoba’s minimum wage.
Since launching, the program has been full every single day. Some days’ demand is so high, that some people can’t obtain a spot, but in a lot of cases they choose to volunteer anyway. Randy Malbranck is one of those people.
Malbranck has been a part of the team for the past six months and is saving up to have a second chance at renting an apartment. He has tried once before, but it didn’t work out. Most days he gets a paid spot, but on the days he doesn’t he chooses to help out in any way he can. “It adds to your life while you’re here,” he told CBC.
Last year, 86 people were employed through the program. People who stick with the program and remain employed for a few months get valuable work experience and can even get references. Not to mention that it gives them drive to find a full time job.
“People see their capabilities and believe in themselves again,” said organizer Cathy Ste. Marie to CBC. “They’ve still got gas in the engine. They’re still capable, and it’s a catalyst to get back into the workforce.”
The program is funded by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and from donations to the Siloam Mission Shelter.
“Ultimately to get out of here. I think that’s everybody’s goal,” said Malbranck. “Sometimes if it’s not the first step, there’s a second step, a third step, you got to keep trying.”
The program, which could easily be implemented in cities across all of North America is an innovative and creative solution to not one, but two rising problems.