Plan to curb panhandling takes people from begging to work in Maine city
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Portland, Maine, is the latest city in the U.S. to try to cut down panhandling by taking people from curbside begging to jobs, such as cleaning parks and picking up litter.
The city launched the "Portland Opportunity Crew" program this month. The program employs panhandlers to do landscaping and clean up public areas at the minimum wage of $10.68 per hour.
Cities including Albuquerque, New Mexico, and San Jose, California, have tried similar programs.
Portland is a city of about 67,000 people with a homeless population of a few hundred. Panhandlers are a common sight on downtown streets and traffic medians around the city.
The program will cost the city $42,000 this year. Workers will be paid via a debit card so they will not need to cash paychecks.