For a long time, homelessness has been a major problem in the USA. As shown in the report of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment last year, there are about 553,000 people homeless in the country.
People in such a situation face even more difficulties when looking for a job, as at every job a permanent address is required.
A non-profit in Austin, Texas, has stepped forward with a wonderful scheme for their homeless population and the city’s wellbeing.
The Other Ones Foundation (OOF) seeks ways to help these people with employment and provide some initial help. The goal is to make the homeless independent and provide them shelter, nourishment, and support.
They proudly state that they are here to “transition Austin’s homeless neighbors into an engaged community, through shelter, support, nourishment, and love.”
The foundation provides employment opportunities where it won’t be obligatory for the employees to provide their permanent address, such as large-scale cleaning of the local environment, public art maintenance, subsidized housing improvements, and enrichment of sheltered animals.
Workers are paid $15, and their lunch and commuting to and from the workplace are ensured. Moreover, they are offered case management services that promote them to permanent employment as well as housing.
Additionally, OOF has also provided a property, the Golden Road, where the homeless can avail facilities like food, laundry, showers, Internet, and day sleeping hours.
OOF has helped most of these people with about $100,000, and 24 of them have moved into stable houses now. This program was initiated first by the Austin City Council members, who have earmarked $720,000 for Family Eldercare Inc. which oversees OOF.
That figure is over seven times the number that the city granted them when the program first began as a rookie project back in September ’18.
The homeless employees work chores like cleaning homeless camps and streets, and scrubbing graffiti off walls, and they often need to go to various sites daily.
The foundation’s executive director, Chris Baker, is confident recent funding will help by increasing the number of participants, as more people are willing to work.
“This program is playing a critical role in our city’s coordinated homelessness response system, not just by getting people off of street corners and onto job sites, but by instilling in them a sense of hope, dignity, and self-worth that’s often lost in the chaos and isolation of the streets.”
“This is not only about people earning a dignified income; it’s about being a force for positive change in the lives of our homeless neighbors. By offering the opportunity to be of service to their community, we see them becoming engaged and proud members of that community.”
Council Member Leslie Pool called the program “transformational” and added that it represents the kind of solution-based and holistic work needed to address the homelessness issue.
The Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, is urging people in Public Health and Parks and Recreation to collaborate with this program.
OOF is planning to expand its ventures, and spread to other cities, which would include more people in the process, and thus eradicate homelessness, poverty, and unemployment.