City of Victoria considering giving homeless people odd jobs

A homeless woman rests while panhandling along Eighth Avenue in New York May 18, 2015 . (Getty)
A homeless woman rests while panhandling along Eighth Avenue in New York May 18, 2015 . (Getty)

Homelessness has been an issue that major cities across Canada have been struggling with for decades, and it's led to some creative solutions to try and combat the homelessness problem. The city of Victoria, B.C. is looking into the possibility of giving homeless people odd jobs around the city as a way to help people earn a living and get back on their feet.

City counsellor Charlayne Thornton-Joe proposed the idea at a meeting recently, a program that would act as a stepping stone towards full-time employment. A chance to gain some work experience, earn a reference and make a little bit of money on a casual basis. Exact duties that prograpm participants may be asked to do would include assisting with the delivery of interdepartmental mail, photocopying or washing vehicles, among other things.

"For that [homeless] person who’s a carpenter or a mechanic or whatever, even just getting dignified work from the city, whether it’s raking leaves or whatever it is, that is a fundamentally different way of making a living than sitting on the street asking passersby for money," said Thornton-Joe.

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While the program presents a unique way of looking at things, the idea itself is nothing new. Mission: Off The Streets (MOST) is a program that has been running out of Winnipeg, Man. for two years by way of the Siloam Mission, a Christian humanitarian organization in the city.

Just last year, MOST employed 86 people to clean garbage off of the streets at a rate of $11 an hour. And even now, the program is filled to capacity with people ready and willing to work every single day. The project is supported by fundraising events put on by Downtown Winnipeg Biz, an organization dedicated to keeping Winnipeg clean and safe.

Programs like this are not only helping the homeless. They are also dispelling the all-too-common myth that the homeless are lazy and just don’t want to work. Many people trying to get off the streets do want to make a change in their lives, contribute to society and simply be able to provide basics like food and shelter for themselves. Victoria is taking a step in the right direction for even considering emulating such a successful program. Hopefully a little bit of a willingness to think outside the box helps keep people out of shelters, and off the streets.