San Jose

San Jose Program Provides Unhoused With Paid Work, Helps Keep City Clean

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Jose's mayor is putting a spotlight on a program that aims to provide the city's unhoused population with paid work while also making the city cleaner.

Mayor Matt Mahan joined almost 140 participants Wednesday to take part in a project to beautify the city and to show the worth of the San Jose Bridge program, which provides numerous resources for the city's homeless population.

The group took part in a cleanup at Guadalupe River Park, part of an overall beautification project by San Jose Bridge that has already collected more than 350,000 pounds of trash over a three-month period.

The program is largely staffed by the unhoused, who are paid $18.50 an hour for their work. The goal is to provide one key step in the long road to getting people off the street.

"A lot of these people are making a lifestyle out of living in tents," San Jose Bridge participant Faron Fields said. "We’re trying to change that. Little by little, we’re doing this."

While the pay is obviously helpful, the mayor points out San Jose Bridge also provides job training, including development of long-term career goals, job placement with companies such as Goodwill and Tesla, and is also designed to help find stable housing.

"We want to empower people," Mahan said. "We want to invest in people. We want to create opportunities for those who are willing and able to work their way off the streets to something better. We have a role to play in providing that support."

Some homeless advocates support the idea but are skeptical that it will go far enough.

"If jobs don’t give them a wage that allows them to pay rent and work in a field that has sustainability, then they're just going to stay on the streets," Shaunn Cartwright with Unhoused Response Group said.

The program, started by Mahan’s predecessor, Sam Liccardo, in 2018, was extended once before and is supposed to end in June. Mahan said he plans to make it a priority to keep it going.

Contact Us