Speech By Albuquerque Mayor Available On International Platform
Mayor Richard Berry’s presentation on panhandling in Albuquerque, “The Dignity of Work,” is now featured on TED.com. In February, Berry spoke about his “There’s a Better Way” initiative to leaders in Washington, D.C., during TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue, a platform where some of the world’s innovators share ideas.
“There’s a Better Way” started in May 2015 with 15 signs posted at intersections throughout Albuquerque to give drivers an alternative way to donate, and to give panhandlers information on services.
In September 2015 Berry introduced “There’s A Better Way 2.0” where the city partnered with St. Martin’s Hospitality Center (SMHC) to drive around and hire panhandlers for day-long beautification projects such as pulling weeds and picking up trash. In December 2016, “There’s A Better Way 3.0” launched a Citizens At Risk Evaluators Team to meet with panhandlers to better understand their situation and craft solutions for them.
“There’s A Better Way” has produced the following statistics:
— 840 unduplicated people have worked in this program, totaling 3,080 jobs provided to panhandlers in Albuquerque.
— 330 of the 840 unduplicated workers have come to employment services. 224 out of 330 were seeking permanent employment, 48 of those 224 found permanent jobs; 125 out of 330 were seeking additional day labor opportunities.
— 20 households have been placed into stable housing through SMHC housing programs.
— 189 clients have engaged with SMHC’s Behavioral Health Department for either mental health or substance abuse treatment options.
— 564 city blocks have been cleaned up, with 165,701 pounds of litter and weeds removed.
— The program has received over 18,322 calls with 96 percent looking to be connected to resources.
— Total donations to date: $61,971.
Berry’s speech on the ways Albuquerque is tackling social issues resulted in some looking to adopt the initiative in their area. Since the inception of the initiative, cities like Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Tucson, Portland (Oregon), Portland (Maine), Honolulu, Anchorage (Alaska), Denver, Spokane, Amarillo, and Lexington have implemented similar programs, citing Albuquerque’s success.
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