Harris County offers homeless jobs to clean up graffiti and trash
“We may be homeless, but we are not desperate,” said Leroy Allen. “Give us something to do and somewhere to go.”
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Graffiti is repainted in Harris County. Over the next six months, a pilot program aims to cleanse the community of gang signs and vulgar messages while giving the local homeless population a chance to make a fresh start.
Sharon Maxey, a 62-year-old grandmother, hopes to erase the slate. That’s why she showed up for work early Tuesday morning as the sun and heat hovered over the pedestrian bridge along I-10 at Crockett Street in Channelview.
“I feel alive,” Maxey said as she leaned over to roll a brush over spray-painted letters on the bridge as traffic rushed past.
“We may be homeless, but we are not desperate,” said Leroy Eric Allen as he painted graffiti along the ramp to the bridge. “Give us something to do and a place to go. “
Allen and Maxey were among a group of nine homeless Harris County residents painting graffiti along the bridge. Each person wore a neon safety vest. Each person volunteered to work on the community clean-up pilot program.
This is what an opportunity can look like: people earning a decent salary while doing community service.
City of Harris County 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia uses the money allocated to her speaker to pay for the program. If at least 10 members of the county’s homeless population are able to thrive through the program by finding employment and securing permanent housing, the program could continue.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Rick Medina supervises participants as they clean up the graffiti. It is planned to extend the work possibilities to the collection of garbage and the cleaning of illegal dumps.
Each person will earn $ 10 per hour.
“$ 10 an hour, so I’m going to paint Houston.” Crosby. They could put me on the moon, I would paint that too, ”Allen joked before explaining what making $ 10 an hour really means to him. “I can eat. I can go anywhere I want. I can buy what I need. I can buy my food. I can eat. I can even put myself in a room for a night.
Career and recovery resources is partnering with the County of Harris to help motivate program participants while helping people find the jobs and housing they need to get off the streets. Nkechi Agwuenu says participants don’t need any previous experience or background checks to start painting over graffiti. Harris County also offers a round trip to each job site and two meals, breakfast and lunch, are provided.
“Oh, I know without a shadow of a doubt it’s going to work,” Agwuenu said.
She says at least one member of the county’s homeless population has already used the graffiti reduction program to get out of homelessness.
“With just a little bit of support, we can get Houston back on its feet,” she said.
A before and after that are worth fighting for.
“I hope they see me try. I miss my grandchildren, my daughter. I only have one daughter, ”said Maxey, wiping the tears from his cheeks. “So I just hope they see I’m trying to change.”
If participants are successful, they will receive a letter of recommendation from Harris County. Deputy Medina is ready to write.
“On the first day, we had two volunteers. Now we are up to eight, ”Medina said.
“This is a great opportunity to get back into society where I belong,” said Allen. “And it makes you feel like you can again.”
On a hot June day, Allen is quick and has hope in his heart, as a pilot aims to make his way through.
“It gives us the opportunity to come back and start over,” as many times as it takes, he says.