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Local City Expands Program to Employ Homeless to Clean City

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The City of Fort Worth is cleaning up litter with the help of a program that also fights homelessness. | Image by NBC 5 DFW

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The City of Fort Worth has expanded its litter abatement program in an effort to combat homelessness and vagrancy while simultaneously helping to clean up the city, NBC 5 reported.

The city council unanimously voted to enter into a new nearly $2 million contract with UpSpire to increase litter pickup crews from three to 10, effective next month.

The contract also includes a provision for four one-year renewal options at the same cost.

This move will help support the City’s litter control campaign — Litter: Stop it! Report it! Pick it up! — that launched earlier this month.

According to its website, UpSpire is a “social enterprise,” a mission-driven business that directly impacts hard-to-employ individuals by providing job training and employment opportunities.

“The social mission is equally as important as generating a profit,” the website states.

The company is affiliated with the Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth, and 100% of the profits generated will be used to provide operating support for the shelter.

UpSpire, which has worked in partnership with the City of Fort Worth since 2016, hires people who are homeless or otherwise “unemployable” for various reasons to clean up litter in city streets, parks, and waterways around Fort Worth.

UpSpire provides training and free daily transportation for the workers.

The goal of the program is to train and equip the company’s staff to successfully transition into the permanent workforce.

The UpSpire website states that employees in programs such as this one have 3x greater housing stability, and 50% of employees move into their own housing after four months of employment.

“These crews are another integral part of our overall litter control strategy,” Brandon Bennett, code compliance director, said in a press release. “And these men and women will focus on helping us clean up our community and to create a more beautiful Fort Worth.”

Bennett said the expansion of the program has the opportunity to lift people out of homelessness.

“This partnership has gained international attention and has become a model for similar programs around the country,” Bennett continued. “We’re beyond excited about the opportunity to continue this partnership. Our community is working hard to create a cleaner, safer city, and we are thrilled to expand the partnerships with UpSpire to help us reach our goals.”

When it first started, the program had only two workers, but now the Fort Worth City Council approved hiring as many as 52 workers. Litter control team member positions start at $10.00 an hour and up, with opportunities for overtime work

“It’s full-time employment. Full-time job, full-time benefits,” Presbyterian Night Shelter CEO Toby Owen told NBC DFW. “We definitely have people that will be staying at our shelter that need employment. We will be hiring them for these jobs.”

Dallas does not have a similar program at this time and seemingly does not provide any job training to help homeless people off the streets. As reported by The Dallas Express, the city does provide porta potties at seven locations for homeless and vagrant people.

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