Albuquerque Extends a Helping Hand to the Homeless

While other cities try to regulate or ban panhandlers, Albuquerque, N.M., offers them an income and social services for the day. Twice a week, a city van rolls through downtown Albuquerque, N.M., stopping at popular panhandling locations, Governing magazine reports. The driver asks panhandlers if they want a day job. Work pays $9 an hour, higher than the state’s $7.50 minimum wage. In May, the city started posting signs at intersections with a 311 phone number and a website. Panhandlers can call to connect with services. Motorists can visit the website  to donate to a local shelter, food bank or an employment fund to pay panhandlers’ wages.

At the end of the day the van drops the day laborers off at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, a nonprofit that connects people with housing, employment and mental health services.

Albuquerque calls its initiative A Better Way. I agree.



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David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.